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Women's watch - Bulletin 4
December 09, 2007

News Flash

A lobbying success: Both Houses of the Zimbabwe Parliament this week approved the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. The next step is for Zimbabwe’s instrument of ratification to be lodged with the AU, at which point the Protocol will come into force for Zimbabwe. After that women’s organisations will need to monitor the Protocol’s incorporation into domestic [national] law and its implementation. Next year at this time, Zimbabwean women will look forward with other African women to celebrating this important stride forward in women’s rights.

The Sixteen Days of Activism on Ending Violence Against Women ends on December 10 - International Human Rights Day

Human rights activists support campaigners for gender rights because of their belief in equality and justice. The women's rights movement has benefited from increased consciousness about human rights and the mushrooming of human rights organisations. The fight against Gender Based Violence [GBV] and HIV/AIDS is increasingly taking on the human rights approach. Human Rights are Women’s Rights and Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Women’s organisations and women’s rights activists are encouraged to participate in commemorating this day. There will be two marches in Harare [Police notified] and all are welcome to join:

- 10 am march starting at ZimRights

- 1 pm Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights march starting at cnr 4th St and Samora Machel Ave.


This year’s Sixteen Days of Activism on Ending Violence Against Women offered a packed programme of rich and dynamic activities. Throughout the country women’s organisations and rights activists, supported by men’s rights activists, AIDS/HIV organisations, the media, donor partners and embassies spotlighted women’s struggles. For organising activities, putting the programme together and participating to make it a success, we must congratulate:

  • organisations and activists
  • the many participants/attendees
  • the Gender Forum hosted by UNIFEM
  • the Women’s Coalition
  • the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development

Our special thanks go Minister Muchinguri for making this week especially memorable by introducing for Parliamentary approval the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa

Highlights of this years Campaign

“Real” Men coming on board

It is encouraging that many young men are now joining campaigns on human rights, GBV and HIV/AIDS. Those brought up in environments where equality is the norm are less threatened by gender equality. Some say they learned through exposure in educational institutions and their relationships with girls and women that there is no room for patriarchy in their generation. Padare – an organisation for men supporting women – contributed both on their own and jointly with partners to arrange marches, talks in refugee camps, sensitisation meetings with community leaders, gender training of trainers, a schools gala with the theme Youth against GBV and the spread of HIV and AIDS. They also held teach-ins in workplaces, public discussions and launched a CD [Real Men].

Contribution of the Students Movement

The Students Solidarity Trust based in Harare had a strong message reminding female students and women across Zimbabwe that they should:

BELIEVE that they are NOT to be blamed for being beaten up and abused

BELIEVE that they HAVE a right to feel, think and make choices for themselves

KNOW that they are NOT alone and they can ask for solidarity and help

BELIEVE that they CAN decide what is best for themselves.

Linking with the fight against HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS Week [26 November to 1 December] and World Aids Day [1 December] fell within the Sixteen Days of Activism on Ending Violence Against Women. There were many activities linking the high incidence of HIV/AIDS with gender based violence. Organisations working for women’s rights linked up with organisations working to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS to raise public awareness on both issues and the relationship between them. The public awareness campaign on GBV and HIV/AIDS included media coverage, contributions by distinguished artists, music galas, functions in schools and workplaces and public meetings including discussions from a cultural perspective.

Publicising the Domestic Violence Act

Many organisations, notably Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association, Musasa Project, Action Aid, YWCA and the Women’s Coalition, chose this as their main activity. Early this year this long awaited law was enacted and came into force, but it still needs to be publicised in all communities, made use of by women and implemented through the judicial system. These sixteen days gave a dramatic impetus to this work. The enthusiastic reception of the message by those it reached during the sixteen days will drive the demand for continuing this work throughout the next 365 days.

Media contribution

There was an exciting use of new technology with EKOWISA organising Cyber-dialogues and Digital Storytelling and DVD screening followed by face-to-face discussions for community members on the Domestic Violence Act, school-girl safety and girl child abuse, women living with disabilities and on the role of men and boys in the fight against domestic violence. ZWRCN and WLSA organised popular radio programmes on Violence Against Women. There were also activities directed to journalists to encourage better reporting on GBV; and women look forward to increased and more analytical press features next year. The International Images Film Festival for Women brought inspiring stories of women’s courage in adversity from round the world.

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day

This period has also been the time to think of all the women round the world who have lost their lives, been beaten, tortured, imprisoned, had their livelihoods taken away, or been thrown out of their families and marriages for their work on women’s rights. Here in Zimbabwe on this day, November 29, WOZA women marched for better basic conditions for women in health, education and food security and many were arrested and beaten.

Here is what a South African women’s rights activist had to say about the situation. “My concern or voice of reason is that 16 days of Activism is about empowering women and children in all forms of violence, the shame is whilst other women are being empowered and starting to access their rights our mothers, sisters and children in Zimbabwe are bashed to be silent about their rights. Worst of all demanding the basic needs and rights which are food, health and education. I call on all mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of the world to support the women of Zimbabwe. Please break the silence against women and children abuse. For more details you can access the CD of testimonies of Zimbabwe women from the human rights organisation called Amnesty International.”

Aluta Continua Comrades.

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