Women who are part of Heal Zimbabwe Virtual platforms have called for the amendment of the Communal Lands act .This came out during a virtual dialogue organised by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe in Zaka, Gutu, Makoni and Buhera to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November 2020.The dialogue also saw women’s human rights organisation, Musasa Project making a presentation on the Referral Pathways for Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The dialogue platform afforded women an opportunity to ask pertinent questions concerning GBV and marital rape. Among topical issues that dominated the dialogue include communal land ownership where household heads (mostly men) are the only ones allocated land by the chief or headman. Participants noted that this precludes women from holding primary land rights, relegating them to holding secondary rights derived from and negotiated through the husband.
In most cases women only have access to land but do not have control of how the land can be utilised. Participants noted that this relegates women to by-standers and therefore cripples their economic activities. It was noted that most conflicts around agricultural land stem from the inability of men to recognise women as equal owners of land. Participants further highlighted that even after harvest time, it is men who benefit more despite the fact that women provide the bulk of labour during farming seasons. Participants concluded that communal land ownership was tilted in favour of men and was the major driver of GBV in local communities. Other issues that also contribute towards GBV include limited economic opportunities for women, lack of family planning tablets at clinics and the COVID 19 induced lockdown.
As part of resolutions, participants agreed that there was need to engage policy makers to lobby for the amendment of the Communal Lands Act since it tends to favour men. Participants also resolved that there was need to raise awareness on GBV and engage key stakeholders such as Traditional leaders who can be major players in ending CBO. The virtual dialogues by Heal Zimbabwe are an initiative meant to create platforms for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities.The virtual platforms also equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, GBV and human rights. Virtual platforms are also platforms that facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.
Source: Heal Zimbabwe Trust