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Preparation for 16 Days against Gender Based Violence Campaign report
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
November 29, 2013

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Executive summary

To mark the 16 days of gender based violence in 2013, WOZA chose to look beyond sphere of physical violence to consider the position of women in a society which perpetrates systemic violence and socio-economic disadvantage. WOZA conducted a brief survey amongst its members to test their perceptions of women’s position in their communities and specifically with regards to their economic status and whether it is improving or deteriorating. The survey consisted of 7 questions, which were arrived at through a focus group discussion. The first two questions were “True” or “False” questions, and the last five questions could be answered on a scale of five from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. For each of the question, respondents were asked to elaborate and justify their choice of answer.

The survey was administered orally by direct interview by WOZA facilitators. In total 7180 members answered the questions, of whom 6428 were women. This survey report concentrates on two main urban centres, Bulawayo and Harare. In Bulawayo 4493 responded and 2687 respondents were Harare based. Of the 7180 members 31% were below the age of 25.

The first statement was twofold but asked for one true or false answer - “In Zimbabwe there is respect for women and violence in the home is almost zero. Of the respondents 19% felt this was true, and 81% answered false, but it is evident from the “reasons” given that in some respects they believe that women are respected because there is legislation protecting women, women have leadership roles, and women are more aware of their rights than they used to be. Those who answered false were referring mainly to violence against women and girls, continued sexual harassment and discrimination, especially in view of traditional beliefs, and the fact that although we have legislation which protects women, it is not implemented by corrupt law enforcement agents.

When asked to indicate whether the indigenization campaign benefits ordinary Zimbabweans, 89% answered in the negative, giving as reasons the inability of the vast majority to access any benefits, which accrue to the few Zanu-PF adherents, the lack of transparency, the demand for collateral for loans, the lack of information about benefits. Those 11% who answered that people do benefit generally knew someone who had received some benefit, but also linked the beneficiaries to Zanu-PF.

The first statement which had to be answered on a rating scale held that women are playing the role of providing food security for their families and grow or buy enough nutritious food. The high number of those who were neutral cited the severe challenges affecting a women’s ability to play their role denoting a crisis of expectations. Only 19% agreed or strongly agreed, 42% were neutral, while 39% disagreed or strongly disagreed. While women are trying very hard to provide for their families and the majority do manage, they barely put food on the table, have to work very hard to do that, and have nothing left over to save or to afford anything beyond the absolute necessities.

The next statement received a more definite response. It stated that a good social security system must first legalise informal trade. Over 90% agreed or strongly agreed, indicating that the informal sector is what has saved them and enabled them to survive with their families, but it has been very difficult because they are always harassed by the police and lose much of their potential income through confiscation of their goods. Those who did not agree generally felt that it would be better for government to provide jobs since not everyone can be a vendor.

Statement 5 presented the observation that natural resources are generally used for the development of the community in which they are found. Here again, there was a marked tendency for the responses to fall at one end of the scale, with 93% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. Those who did agree generally knew of one area where people had benefited, while those who disagreed also cited examples of communities which had not benefited. They also pointed to the fact that budgets are centrally controlled and a large chunk of the funds accruing from natural resources is often misappropriated to corrupt purposes.

On the question of confidence in Zanu-PF to implement the new constitution, there was a trend towards lack of confidence, with 64% disagreeing that the new constitution would be implemented. In this case Bulawayo respondents had more positive expectations of implementation than did those in Harare. The final statement asked respondents to indicate whether or not development in their community had deteriorated since the year 2000. 65% felt there was deterioration, but some did give examples of improvement in their communities, so the news was not all bad.

This survey only showed the impressions held by WOZA members in Harare and Bulawayo and are not based on systematic research or data collection. However, a conclusion is apparent - WOZA members do not believe that women are respected nor that violence against them has ceased. Responses indicated little confidence in Zanu-PF’s indigenization policies as far as women are concerned, and frustration at the criminalization of women informal traders and their resulting harassment by the police. All believed that women were working very hard to create food security for their families, but many noted that this was done against all odds. The vast majority believe the development situation in their communities had deteriorated. They do not believe that Zanu-PF will implement the new constitution effectively. The responses show great disillusionment with and distrust of government and a keen sense of the disadvantages felt by women in spite of their hard work to provide for their families. The scars that women bear today are not just a result of physical violence but are deep rooted in years of poor governance by the state, emotional and psychological manipulation in the home, community and workplace as well as deliberate marginalisation of women in all spheres of life. It does not need to be physical violence for women to bear the scars of abuse.

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