The United Nations in Zimbabwe joins the Government and other development partners in commemorating today (22 March) the national celebrations of International Women’s Day under the national theme, “Act now to end violence against women and girls”.
In Zimbabwe, women make up over half (52%) of the total population and unfortunately many of them are poor. Women are under-represented in political decision-making with only 14% in the Lower House and 24% in the Upper House of Parliament against the SADC protocol and African Union of 50%. Women are disadvantaged in terms of health; the maternal mortality ratio is high at 960 per 100,000 live births. According to the 2011 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, 1 in 4 women reported that they had experienced sexual violence, and 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence since the age 15.
To reverse the aforementioned negative practices and trends, Zimbabwe has taken important steps through the 4P’s campaign (Prevention, Protection, Participation, Programmes) which is informed by the Africa Unite to End Violence against Women Campaign, the regional component of the UN Secretary General’s global UNiTE campaign. In line with this, the UN Country Team support through the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework 2012-2015 to national programmes and initiatives include:
- The development of national policies and frameworks including: the National Gender Based Violence (GBV) Strategy, the Standard Operating Procedures for Safe Homes, the Child Rights Policy and the development of the CEDAW Committee Recommendations Action Plan.
- Technical support to women’s lobby groups resulting in a special measure to increase women’s representation in Parliament, a provision for achieving gender balance in all public entities and commissions and 75% of other demands incorporated into the new Constitution.
- Studies and surveys including: Gender Situation Analysis, National Baseline Survey on Life Experiences of Adolescents, as well as the Gender Based Violence Information Management System.
- Production of a simplified Family Law Hand book and access to justice support to more than 3,000 women as well as expansion of the Victim Friendly Courts and Clinics.
- Integrated Support Programme for Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV Prevention for 2012-2015.
- Broad-based Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework to ensure women’s access to micro-finance as well as local, regional and international markets.
- Introduction of the Gender Responsive Economic Management (GEPMI), a course designed to enable policy makers to address gender issues in all aspects of economic planning and management.
As Zimbabwe marks International Women’s Day, the United Nations Country Team in Zimbabwe reiterates its continued support to national efforts to tackle the root cause of Gender Based Violence and promote gender equality and women empowerment.