By Nhau Mangirazi
HARARE– Zimbabwe female Members of Parliament (MPs) staged a protest in august house last week over unabated domestic violence, rape and forced marriages haunting the nation.
Hurungwe Proportional Representative and women parliament caucus chairperson Goodlucky Kwaramba said the protest was meant to raise awareness that women have suffered for too long in silence.
Kwaramba said, ‘Women and girls are subjected to all forms of violence including domestic violence, rape while the latest machete gangs reigning supreme all over the country has not spared them. We call for our protection through laws that are guiding principles of both social and economic value so that we all have equal opportunities like our male counterparts. We are saying enough is enough of the abuse and the law must protect us,’
Zimbabwean female MPs reaction was buttressed by Panos Institute Southern Africa that has called for concerted efforts to address the various social and economic barriers to the realization of women’s rights which remain largely unaddressed.
In a statement to mark International Women Day, Panos Southern Africa executive director Vusumuzi Sifile Sibanda, said they are concerned that 25 years after Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action resolution to achieve gender equality, gender inequality still reigns supreme in Southern Africa.
‘‘Women continue to be pushed to the margins by social and economic systems and structures. This year theme is a call to reflect on the progress made in advancing women’s rights 25 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, undoubtedly one of the most significant steps in the quest for gender equality and gender equity,’ he said.
However, he admitted that although some milestones have been recorded in addressing the barriers to gender equality and gender equity, more still needs to be done.
‘The majority of Southern African countries still fall short in terms of achieving or showing commitment to gender equality and equity in key leadership positions. Of concern to us is the fact that the participation of women in political leadership and public administration is low. Panos conducted a study in 2018 that identified various political party structures and systems that marginalize women and hinder them from taking up leadership. The assessment confirmed that participation of women in political party leadership is very marginal. The gender disparity in leadership creates difficulties for women to thrive as they compete with men who are already dominating and then also have to deal with the deep-rooted patriarchal beliefs and attitudes that leadership is for men,’
He added that sexual harassment and general political violence also discourage women from participating in even the most basic political activities.
Sifile said, ‘We all have to play to achieve gender equality. In order to fully realize women’s rights and achieve gender equality, Panos encourages governments to put in place and adhere to national and international principles on to ensure gender balance. We also urge decision makers to put in places laws, policies and other instruments to address the current barriers to the realization of women’s rights. Civil society, traditional and religious leaders, and other opinion leaders also have a role to play in advocating for equality and the realization of women’s rights,’ concluded Sifile.