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CCDZ statement on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence
Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ)
November 25, 2013

The Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ), a grassroots non-profit making organization carrying out human rights, citizen participation and governance work in Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the International Human Rights Day and the ensuing 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, commemorated every year globally between 25 November and 10 December to raise awareness and trigger action on gross human rights violations.

To CCDZ, this period marks time to reflect on the strides made by women in challenging oppressive systems and the hurdles they still face in their struggle for a just world for women. It is sad that in Zimbabwe despite the fact that women constitute close to 52% of the population, they still lack representation in decision-making bodies at all levels. Their lack of control over key productive resources is also worrisome. Women remain the minority in such sectors as mining, farming, manufacturing and construction. Retrogressive attitudes and views of women as second class citizens to be seen but not to be heard should be buried.

Despite the gender equality provisions of the new Constitution, such as 60 seats reserved for women in the lower house of assembly and 50-50 representation in the senate, the participation of women in democracy and governance remains very pathetic. Most women who contested in the July 31 harmonized elections did not make it in either council or parliament due to negative attitudes of their male counterparts who argued that ‘women already had their share in parliament (60 seats) and senate (50%) and so there was no need for them to contest under the First Past the Post System.’

With only 4 female ministers and a few others deputizing men, Zimbabwe cannot boast of being progressive in the area of women empowerment. This on its own is a sign of lack of political will and lack of confidence in women by the powers that be. This wrong precedence, set at the highest political level, is already replicated at the local level where on average a fifth of the women have ‘token’ leadership positions in Ward Development Committees (WADCOs),Village Development Committees (VIDCOs), School Development Committees (SDCs),councils and even in churches to window dress the gender balance needs. CCDZ laments the absence of a safe political space for women to participate freely in politics and development. The Gender Commission, a body provided for by the new Constitution, to monitor and raise a voice on such gender injustice issues as these has to date remained on paper.

CCDZ is greatly concerned about the attitude of some police officers, who, despite the presence of the Domestic Violence Act, dismiss genuine domestic violence cases brought by women as private matters to be privately settled. Because of this attitude, serious human rights abuses committed against women and young girls remain hidden and unreported. CCDZ will not tire in its efforts to educate communities on their rights and through human rights monitoring, to expose violations of the rights of women. CCDZ appeals to the government to speedily ensure the implementation of the laws, which protect and enhance women’s rights as well as ensure that the Gender Commission is constituted and functional. We strongly believe that development will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of women and respect for their rights and needs.

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