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Women's watch - Bulletin 4 / 2008
February 26, 2008

News Flash
Privilege Matanga, a visibly pregnant female student leader [ZINASU Gender Secretary], was beaten by riot police when students marched in the streets of Bulawayo two weeks ago over the education crisis which is facing the country. She is now in labor with complications and has to have a caesarian. The provincial general hospital she is in has no facilities for surgery and her fellow students are trying to collect money for her transfer to a private hospital.

Update on women candidates
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has completed the final list of House of Assembly and Senate candidates for the March 2008 harmonized elections, but the local council nominations have still to be officially announced. Reports coming in so far indicate the 30% of women candidates we were all hoping for may be achieved. Congratulations to women leaders in political parties who over the last five years have been working so hard to achieve this, and to all the women’s organizations who have been working to empower women for so long and to the Women’s Trust for their recent Women Can Do It Campaign.

Update on protocol on rights of African women
The Parliament of Zimbabwe approved the Protocol at the end of last year. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development has informed Women’s Watch that it has completed the necessary paperwork for Zimbabwe’s ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women. The paperwork is currently with the office of President Mugabe awaiting his signature. As soon as it is signed it will be sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs who will forward it to the Ambassador to the African Union to lodge on behalf of Zimbabwe.

UN ommission on the status of women 52nd session meeting in New York
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development and NGOs including Padare, Womens Aid Support Network, ZWRCN, ZWLA and the Coalition have sent representatives to attend the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women being held in New York from February 25 to March 7. During the 52nd session the Commission will consider the priority theme: “Financing for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women” as well as the emerging issue of “Gender Perspectives on Climate Change”. In addition the Commission will review implementation of the agreed conclusions (recommendations) on “Women’s Equal Participation in Conflict Prevention, Management and Conflict Resolution and in Post-Conflict Peace building”. We hope that all those working on the rights and empowerment of women will receive full reports from the organizations attending.

Historic turning point for Committee on CEDAW
The just-ended fortieth session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women marked a historic turning point in the work and the status of the Committee. The Committee watches over the progress for women made in those countries that signed or acceded to the CEDAW [the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women] and for the last 25 years has been in the UN division of the UN Advancement of Women.

This was the Committee’s first session to be held at the United Nations in Geneva, and the first session to be serviced by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The significance of the move and the enhanced status of the Committee was highlighted by Ms. Kyung-wha Kang the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights who assured the Committee that its work on CEDAW will “enjoy the highest status, visibility and authority. Your presence in Geneva will greatly contribute to the strengthening of the treaty body system, and the current endeavors towards a harmonized, well-coordinated and integrated approach…. We believe that your Committee will also push the entire human rights agenda forward by prioritizing women’s rights and gender mainstreaming, in particular through your future relations with the Human Rights Council.”

In her concluding remarks Ms Dubravka Simonovic the chairperson of the Committee reminded signatories to the Convention of the “need to check compatibility of their legislation with the Convention”. In many States the CEDAW Convention should be rediscovered and used as a central legally binding instrument for the development of policies for the advancement of women, as well as the elimination of discrimination against women. It is also important to connect the implementation of the CEDAW Convention with the implementation of other human rights treaties as well as with other complementary policy documents such as the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Declaration and the Security Council resolution 1325 when relevant.”

CEDAW reporting commitments
Zimbabwe acceded to CEDAW 13th May 1991.
Article 18 of CEDAW provides that States parties [countries that have signed up to the Convention] shall undertake to submit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for consideration by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a report on the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the Convention and on the progress made in that respect. Reports are to be submitted within one year after the entry into force of the Convention for the State concerned and thereafter at least every four years, and further whenever the Committee so requests.

Rule 49 of the rules of procedure of the Committee provides that, at each session, the Secretary-General shall notify the Committee of the non-receipt of any report required from a State party under article 18 of the Convention.

Zimbabwe’s 1st Report was due on 12th June 1992 but was only completed and sent in 1996 [Electronic version available on request]

The Report was examined by the Committee in 1998. The Committee’s comments on the Report were included in its own report on the work of the session. [Electronic version available on request]

The 2nd periodic report was due in 1996, the 3rd in 2000 and the 4th in 2004. The 5th is due in June this year. We have been in contact with the Ministry who has said they will be preparing all four reports as a combined report and will be arranging meetings for stakeholders.

Reminder International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day on March 8 is an occasion marked by women’s groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

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