The Herald (Harare)

18 February 2014

Zimbabwe: World Bank Hails Zim On Gender Parity

Zimbabwe is among five countries in Africa south of the Sahara that have made significant progress in gender parity, the latest World Bank report on gender equality says. Improvements in gender equality were noted in legislation on domestic violence, property ownership between men and women, the Constitution, employment rights, general discrimination and equality in business, politics and the social arena.

The World Bank report, titled "Women, Business and the Law 2014: Removing Sanctions to Enhance Gender Equality", says Zimbabwe was taking gender issues seriously, as attested by the progress it had made in the last three years.

"The researches that were carried out revealed that unmarried women in Zimbabwe confer citizenship in the same way as men, while married women confer citizenship in the same way as men," noted the report.

On property ownership, the report also applauded Zimbabwe for a new Constitution that promotes equal property ownership rights between men and women.

However, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, The Sudan and Tanzania did not fare well on abortion, which remains illegal in these countries. Only South Africa was given the nod because it has broadly legalised abortion.

The 2014 report also looked at issues such as gender differences in obtaining national identification cards; the use of quotas to increase women's representation on corporate boards, national parliaments and local government; married women's ownership rights; and the number of women justices in supreme courts.

The World Bank added a new indicator -- protecting women from violence -- which examined laws on domestic violence, and the existence and scope of laws on sexual harassment.

The report noted that women were likely to perform better at work if they are free from sexual harassment and other forms of abuse.

"Economies with greater numbers of restrictions on women's work have, on average, lower female participation in the formal labour force and have fewer firms with female participation in ownership.

"Conversely, economies which provide a greater measure of incentives for women to work have greater income equality," the report added.

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