The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum joins the world in commemorating International Women’s Day. Each year, the global community comes together on 8 March to celebrate women across the world. International Women’s day is dedicated to celebrating women and their achievements within all spheres of life that include social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political arenas. It is also a day to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in their communities and countries.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has ravaged the world and millions of people have lost their lives. In spite of these challenges, women have stepped up and occupied space in every sphere of society and for that, we wish to celebrate them. On a global scale, the election and inauguration of Kamala Harris as the first woman of colour and first female Vice President of America was a historical moment for black and brown women and girls across the world. It served as a sign and symbol that women can occupy any space they so desire, with hard work and determination.
Zimbabwean women have also taken up space on a global scale. Tanya Muzinda, the teenage motocross sensation who is taking on a male dominated sport, is thriving and stands as a role model to women and girls across the world. Prolific writer, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s latest novel, “This Mournable Body” was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Price. Actress, writer, singer, and songwriter, Tendaishe Chitima, played a lead in the first Zimbabwean movie to be streamed on Netflix titled ‘Cook Off’. Dr Azza Mashumba, a paediatrician at Parirenyatwa Hospital came out was as one of the vocal and passionate voices that advocated for the rehabilitation of the country’s health sector. Dr Mashumba was later featured in an article in the internationally acclaimed “Guardian” newspaper next to other influential Zimbabwean women. Zimbabwean women have taken up space in the political sphere as well, with Advocate Fadzai Mahere, Joanna Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri being some of the prominent voices in politics currently.
In Zimbabwe, it is saddening to note that International Women’s Day is being commemorated at a time when many women have been victims of violence perpetrated by State and non-State actors. Regrettably, little action has been taken to provide effective remedies for all the women who have been subjected to unconscionable violations, such as sexual assault, abductions, torture and arbitrary assaults. Women also continue to bear the brunt of economic mismanagement by the government as they continue to lack access to basic services such as health care, potable water, shelter, food and other necessary amenities including decent livelihoods. Several women have also been subjected to arbitrary arrests and detention as they strived to provide food for their families during the COVID-19 induced national lockdown. The Forum also remains concerned with the continued political persecution of women in politics in Zimbabwe. The Constitution guarantees the right to challenge government policies and to protest and it is essential for women to continue to take up space in all spheres of society.
As an organisation committed to ensuring human rights for all, the Forum calls on the government to:
- Guarantee the rights of women to freedom of association, assembly and expression without fear of persecution, arrest and intimidation.
- 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.
- Respect the rights of every woman, regardless of race, ethnicity and political affiliation.
- Ensure 50/50 gender parity in all official appointments, as demanded by the Constitution.
Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum