Statement on International Women’s Day

ON International Women’s Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) pays tribute to women who are at the forefront of contributing to combating the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic and shaping a more equal future.

Commemorated every year on 8 March, International Women’s Day offers an opportunity to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by all women, who have played an extraordinary role in their communities and countries.

The 2021 theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” is timely and its importance cannot be over-emphasised.

This year, we celebrate the remarkable efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID19 pandemic. It stresses on women’s full and effective participation and decision making in public life, elimination of violence and the need to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women.

It is heartening that in the midst of the deadly COVID19 pandemic, women are at the front line in national and global policy responses and in various sectors as leaders, health care workers, care givers community leaders, organisers and as innovators in combating the pandemic.

ZLHR pays tribute to women leaders contributing to the national response to the COVID19 pandemic and women’s organisations that have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively lead in curbing the spread of virus.

While women are battling to stem the tide of the virus, it is worrying that social and systemic barriers to women’s participation in all spheres of life continue to exist including increased gender inequality, domestic violence, poverty, unemployment and perpetuation of patriarchy among other challenges.

While the Constitution provides for full participation of women in all spheres of the Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men, it is disconcerting that women remain marginalised and excluded from economic, social and political spheres of society.

The Constitution also explicitly provides that women must have access to resources including land and it is disheartening that government and its agencies continue to evict women and girls from their ancestral land in villages across the country such as Chiredzi and Honde Valley. Such callous actions have the effect of disenfranchising and undermining the potential of women and their families.

Of concern to ZLHR too, is the persistent targeting of women human rights defenders through arrest, detention that exposes them to contracting COVID19, harassment, persecution, and prosecution and sexual assault.

To achieve an equal future in a COVID19 plagued world, ZLHR calls upon government to;

  • Ratify all outstanding treaties and optional protocols such as the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
  • Guarantee the rights of women to freedom of expression, association and assembly without fear of arrest, intimidation, persecution and prosecution;
  • Enforce the outlawing of child marriages in Zimbabwe;
  • End marginalisation and exclusion of women from economic, social and political spheres of society through implementing legislative and administrative measures to outlaw discrimination against women and promote their status as undertaken during the United Nations Human Rights Council-led Universal Periodic Review Mechanism.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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