Eight Heads of Missions in Zimbabwe, the Charge d' Affaires of the British Embassy, the resident Coordinator of the United Nations and the Regional Director for UNESCO Southern Africa joined on December 5 the HeForShe global movement for gender equality. The Heads of Missions included the Ambassadors of Australia, Canada, the European Union, India, Japan, South Africa, the United States of America and Zambia.
In a ceremony at the Australian Embassy in Harare during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the 10 men and one woman took a stand for the advancement of gender equality through their pledges and commitment. HeForShe was launched in 2014 by British actor and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, whose impassioned rallying call mobilized more than 100,000 men in just three days, and at least one man in every country in the world within the first five, garnering more than 1.2 Billion conversations on social media. Some two million women and men worldwide have joined the movement.
Speaking at the event, the UN Women Country Representative to Zimbabwe, Delphine Serumaga, highlighted the importance of men's involvement in the fight for gender equality and women's rights, and she noted that the HeForShe movement provided a platform for influential people to work with a wide cross-section of women, girls, men and boys to eradicate the inequalities that increase women's and girls' vulnerability to Gender-Based Violence (GBV), for example, which remains one of the most pervasive human rights violations globally.
Both the Canadian Ambassador, Rene Cremonese, and the American Ambassador, Brian Nichols, pointed to their mothers as their "inspiration" for joining the HeForShe global movement. Ambassador Cremonese said his mother, who was an immigrant and widowed twice, was not allowed to go to school. "Diplomats need to walk the talk and take action," he said.
"My mother", said Ambassador Nichols, "was a strong woman who was very active in the civil rights movement in the US and she also joined the feminist movement... I was inspired by her determination to fight for equality." The American Ambassador added that it is "important to engage boys and young men in conversations on what it means to be a man to foster a culture of positive masculinity."
The Heads of Missions and UN representatives speaking at the event all stressed that the HeForShe global movement provides a window of opportunity for everyone to be part of the change that they want to see in the world, especially for men, who need to stand and take up the mantle for women's rights and empowerment.
By hosting the event, the Australian Ambassador Bronte Moules said she wanted to create a platform where persons of influence can engage with Zimbabwean women to develop sustainable solutions together. Some 60 participants attended the event and participated in a discussion which was moderated by Ms. Sally Dura, Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe.
The diplomats who pledge their commitment to the HeForShe movement were:
Canada - Ambassador Rene Cremonese
USA - Ambassador Brian Nichols
South Africa- Ambassador Mphakama Mbete
India - Ambassador Rungsung Masakui
Japan - Ambassador Mr. Toshiyuki Iwado
Chargé d'Affaires, British Embassy - Simon Thomas
EU - Ambassador Timo Olkkonen
Zambia - Ambassador Emmanuel Tawana Chenda
UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa - Professor Hubert Gijzen
UN Resident Coordinator - Bishow Parajuli
Australia - Ambassador Bronte Moule