Gender based violence is rife

HARARE - It is time for action to end gender-based violence and men should not be inevitable to speak out against the violence, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson on gender and Goromonzi MP Biata Nyamupinga has said.

Gender based violence is rife-and it is getting worse-according to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey the prevalence of gender-based violence stood at 47 percent among women.

Speaking during the Election Resource Centre (ERC) sponsored radio show to commemorate 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based violence Nyamupinga said men’s involvement is key.

The ERC seeks to increase citizens, particularly women and youth engagement and influence.

“For a long time we have been talking to the converted, we have been talking to ourselves because we have always been the victims, so we have always been talking to ourselves but now I’m very happy that we are involving men.

“Actually a lot of men, even in Parliament, are running with it (Activism against gender based violence),” Nyamupinga said.

Nyamupinga was responding to a Whatsapp question by a listener who wanted to know if men are being involved in the fight against gender based violence.

Feminist and human rights activist, Sally Dura the National Co-ordinator said men are important in the equation.

“Men involvement has become key. Male MPs signed a pledge to commit that they will do something about ending child marriages in their constituencies,” Dura said.

Dura said despite milestone achievements on paper women in Zimbabwe are still suffering from the violence.

“While we have progressive constitution on woman and gender equality and while Zimbabwe is a signatory to the SADC Gender Protocol on Gender and Development and many regional and International commitments that the government of Zimbabwe has put in place including the establishment of the national gender implementation machinery which is the Gender Commission and the Ministry  of Women Affairs which is decentralized, we continue to realize that women cannot assert or enjoy their right because of violence against them,” Dura said.

Dura said Women Coalition of Zimbabwe celebrate the great work that women across all political divides in all parts of the country worked together through the G20 Initiative which brought together women in Parliament, civic society, academic sector and private sector and collectively managed to deliver women’s rights responsive constitution to the people of Zimbabwe.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is a global campaign dedicated to ending gender-based violence. It seeks to raise awareness at the local, national and international levels regarding violence against women.

She also added that the current flawed electoral system in the country has made it difficult for women to participate in elections as candidates.

Nyamupinga said there is need to create a conducive environment for women. “Our mode of election is not conducive for women, for example elections are associated with a lot of violence, and also economical violence because if you don’t have money you can’t win anything.”

She added: “Going forward I would propose for electoral system amendment and include the zebra system for equal and proportional representation…there is need to have one that is conducive for women to participate.”

The outspoken MP, who is also the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Chairperson on Gender, said the plight of women is exacerbated by their economic status making it easy for men to use their financial muscle to elbow out women during elections.

“We have commercialised elections in this country that’s why you find that women in the relevant constituencies they don’t support other women not that they don’t like other women but because they are given money. Men because they are financially resourced they will get all the seats,” she lamented.

Nyamupinga, however, said there is need for women organisations to do resource mobilisation so that we support women candidates.

Dura who has inspired a lot of young women in Zimbabwe and currently the national co­ordinator for the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe said women participation in general is low.

“The participation of women is very disappointing in terms of statistics it is at low level were women are continuously mobilized in voting for men in most cases,” Dura said adding that, “we also have a violent political culture, there is also the noncompliance to the constitution by political parties by the manner in which they do appointments and candidate selection criteria in terms of gender balance.”

The ERC has since petitioned Parliament calling for the alignment of the Electoral Act and the constitution a processes which will lead to the holding of free, fair and credible elections.

Through its various such as the Communities in Action the ERC is encouraging the participation of citizens particularly women and youth.

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