ZimRights joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s Day. This is a day that we observe and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women while calling for and taking action towards gender parity. This year, the day is being commemorated under the theme #BreakTheBias.
This year, the International Women’s Day finds our nation locked in what is obviously becoming a violent election with political violence and hate speech on the rise. We are concerned that many women will be pushed out of the political process because violence and hate speech. Many will be kept away by exclusionary patriarchal practices that make the playing field unsafe for women.
As ZimRights, we are concerned with the many biases that curtail the advancement of women in all spheres of life, beyond politics. In Zimbabwe, there are still many factors that militate against women, underscoring the biases that still exist within our nation.
Women participation and involvement in leadership and decision-making processes has been derailed and denied by several factors which inhibit women’s potential to excel. Women who face violence, poverty and discrimination are more likely to be excluded from decision making. Barriers such as discriminatory laws, lack of education and greater caring responsibilities all restrict women from becoming leaders. ZimRights has observed that women who reach leadership positions sometimes face daily prejudice, harassment and violence. In Zimbabwe women constitute 52% of the total Zimbabwean population, but a paltry 31% of them are parliamentarians, 30% of them are cabinet ministers, 29% of them are directors or hold influential positions in private entities while a paltry 14% are councillors. Women’s public and political participation is more than a numbers game. For women to shape laws and practices they must have real influence over decisions.
In addition, women continue to suffer the brunt of negative socio-cultural practices which include domestic violence, child marriages as well as sexual abuse. In the work place, women find themselves isolated and sometimes marginalized in unfriendly, if not hostile, male- dominated institutional cultures.
Women are also at the receiving end of poor service delivery as witnessed by the depleted access to health and maternal-health facilities. It is women who are also heavily burdened by the lack of access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water and sanitation in Zimbabwe today.
As such, through the Women, Human Rights and Leadership Action Zone, ZimRights continues to amplify the voices of women and to be afforded meaningful participation in decision-making processes. ZimRights believes that women have what it takes to determine the course of action regarding affairs that affect their day to day lives – for their benefit and that of everyone else.
Therefore, ZimRights seeks to help #BreakTheBias by making the following call:
- That all women arise, unite and take a stand against all the factors that entrench further bias against their advancement.
- That the Government of Zimbabwe walk the talk in fighting for gender equality and depart from tokenistic policies and approaches to issues affecting the advancement of women.
- That the Government of Zimbabwe and all policy makers respect and uphold the Constitution which, under Section 17 and Section 80, as well as the National Gender Policy, advocates for equality between men and women.
- That all private citizens, men and women alike, take an active stance against perpetrating biases that subvert women advancement in all areas of life.
Issued by the ZimRights Information Department