'Women ready for heaven on earth'

HARARE - With a loving husband and cash in their pockets, women in Zimbabwe say they are ready to achieve heaven on earth.

The two sum up women’s state of well-being, according to women’s lobby group Katswe Sistahood.

While many of them face battered and bruised lives perpetuated by domestic violence, women believe their lives could be much better if given enough in the bedroom, allowed to go to school and have access to property.

“When they said loving husbands, at face value it might feel so small but if you think deeper it enshrines their right to equality. It has a say no to domestic violence message,” said United Nations women communications and media consultant Pat Made.

Those three needs were constantly raised during a baseline survey carried out by Katswe Sistahood, an organisation that seeks to enhance women’s knowledge on their judicial, social and economic rights.

Katswe Sistahood coordinator Tariro Jumo said women are more concerned with their emancipation, health and equality.

“Money links with availability of employment, being able to earn means you can now afford decent health, education and shelter. The same with education, it is the path to success,” Jumo said.

The survey was aimed at measuring women expectations, appreciation, participation and establishing barriers to participation in the constitution-making process.

Despite the youths having been commended for participation, according to the survey, only 22 percent of youths participated in the constitutional process.

“This was incredibly low in view of the fact that youths make up 66 percent of Zimbabwe’s total population. One can imagine that the percentage for young women was even glaringly low,” she said.

The survey revealed that the majority of youths shied away from the Constitution Select Committee or Copac process because of political reasons and poor process packaging.

“There is too much polarisation in these national processes to the extent that the youths have lost interest. We also realised that they felt excluded particularly because the said packaging of the constitution messages did not appeal to them,” she said.

Katswe interviewed 15 young women, 30 just out of school youths and 20 young women in tertiary institutions between ages 15 and 35.

Socio-cultural barriers and gender roles are among those exposed to have also impacted on the way women aired their views during outreach programmes.

“While most respondents had heard about the constitution-making process, very few had participated.”

“At least 73 percent of the young women interviewed had not participated, 12 percent attended the outreach meetings while only two percent participated in the first all stakeholders consultative meeting,” said Jumo.

Contrary to media reports, Women in Rural and Farming Communities (Wag) research, presented by Gamuchirai Mandangu, revealed that about 60 percent rural women participated.

Wag interviewed 70 women mostly above the age of 40 from Chiundura, Guruve, Marondera and Murehwa districts.

But appreciation of the process proved to be limited amongst women and delegates recommended aggressive awareness campaigns through training workshops, social sites, media, churches and transporters.
 
Several women lobby groups are on record saying 75 percent of the women’s issues had been included. - Wendy Muperi

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