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progress: Media and gender before and beyond the 16 Days Campaign
of activism against Gender Based Violence
of African Media Women - Zimbabwe (FAMWZ)
November 22, 2013
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secretary for foreign Affairs, Hillary Rodham Clinton once famously
said, “There cannot be true democracy unless women’s
voices are heard”.
to a pro-active and vigilante women’s movement in Zimbabwe
and the world over, women have made significant progress in pushing
frontiers and getting their voices heard as full and equal citizens
with a right to dignity and self determination.
this drive by women has seen some key milestones being achieved
in order to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.
These include policy and legislative reforms and the expansion of
spaces and platforms for the realisations of women’s rights.
For example, the Zimbabwean government is signatory to various regional
and international conventions and treaties, declarations and protocols
that seek to promote and create an enabling environment for the
attainment of gender equality women’s empowerment. These include
the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
(1991), the Rights; the Global Platform for Action and the Beijing
Declaration (1995). At a regional level, the country in 1997 signed
the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development as well as its addendum
on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women and
At a domestic
level, the Legal Age of Majority Act, the Sexual
Offences Act, and the Domestic
Violence Act are some of the legislation enacted to promote
gender equality and protect women’s rights. The National Gender
Policy (2002) provides guidelines and the institutional framework
to engender all sectoral policies, programmes, projects and activities
at all levels of society and the economy. Gender focal points have
been established in all ministries and parastatals to spearhead
gender mainstreaming. In 1995, the government formed the Ministry
of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development to oversee
all gender programmes and to facilitate gender mainstreaming in
all sector ministries. Some initiatives by the ministry have seen
the adoption of the 16 Days Campaign Against gender-based violence
as an all-year campaign. Some initiatives adopted in order to raise
awareness include the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender
Based Violence, and more recently, the One Billion Rising Campaign,
legislated discrimination against women continues to progressively
fall away, a complementary change in mindsets and attitudes learned
through socialisation needs to take place if gender equality is
to be a lived reality for both women and men.
As an agent
of socialisation, the media play an important role in this regard.
Not only do they report on current events but they also provide
frameworks for interpretation, mobilise citizens with regard to
various issues, reproduce predominant culture and society and entertain
(Llanos and Nina, 2011). As such, the media present an important
tool in the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality,
both through employment opportunities and the representation of
women and men in a fair and balanced manner.
This study therefore
seeks to assess the media’s role in reporting on women and
gender issues and thereby the media’s contribution towards
a sustained and positive societal appreciation of women’s
rights and gender equality. This will be done on a comparative basis
with the 2011 Media
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) report
on the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Based Violence.
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