#TIMEISNOW: Is anyone paying attention to the activism for gender equality and women’s rights in Zimbabwe?

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8 March 2018, Harare – led and moderated by Ms Delphine Serumaga, UN Women Representative in Zimbabwe in line with the 2018 IWD theme: Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives, a panel of Zimbabwean women and men from Parliament, media, civil society, the private sector and academia held a conversation with a public audience at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe on whether anyone is listening anymore to the activism for gender equality and women’s rights in Zimbabwe.

Where has the activism stalled? Why is the strong gender equality and women’s rights legal and policy framework not implemented or translated into actions that change the lives of women and girls? What must be done differently? These questions, among others, were explored by the panellists and audience at this conversation convened by the Zimbabwe Country Office of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and Stimulus Africa, an enterprise development organization which has a vibrant women’s network that supports women’ economic empowerment.

This year’s commemoration of International Women’s Day comes against a backdrop of unprecedented – global marginalization for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women have captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change.

In Zimbabwe too, headlines continue to depict the bad news - stories of violence against women and girls; women’s struggles for access to health and access to justice; among others – sprinkled with a more concerted media effort to tell the stories of women rising to positions of leadership and the doors beginning to crack open in various spheres.

The gender disparities between women in the urban and rural areas in Zimbabwe are still wide. The media stories emanating from the rural areas, where most of Zimbabwean women reside, continue to foster a narrative of women and girls who remain marginalized and on the fringes of national development.