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Plea to enforce laws on women and girls
The Daily News Online
March 10, 2005

http://www.daily-news.co.za

HARARE - A senior official with a United Nations (UN) agency for family planning on says the challenge for Zimbabwe is to enforce the laws that have been put in place and translate existing policies into concrete programmes that benefit women and girls.

Anna Rueben-Mumba, the UNFPA Gender and Advocacy Officer, said on Tuesday women and girls have for a long time been subjected to humiliating treatment by their male counterparts.

This year’s International Women’s Day commemorations are being held under the theme "Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future".

Reuben-Mumba said since traditions and practices are often stronger than law, greater efforts must be made to empower women, foster community participation, involve men and use culturally sensitive approaches.

She said: "Disturbing levels of violence against women and the absence of laws to adequately protect women and girls from such violence, high levels of maternal mortality, women and girls’ increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS infection and the unequal representation of women in decision-making positions all point to the need for greater awareness and collective action."

She said this year’s theme recognised that greater progress to protect the rights of women and ensuring their full participation in decision-making was essential for peace, development and equality.

Of particular importance to UNFPA is reproductive health as agreed on by world leaders at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 and at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (995).

She said all individuals have the right to reproductive health, to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have information and the means to exercise those decisions.

The UNFPA official urged the government of Zimbabwe to assert that each woman and girl was a unique and valuable human being who is entitled to equal opportunities and universally adopted human rights, irrespective of place of birth or residence.

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