8 March 2019

Zimbabwe: Let's Prioritise Gender Equality, Equity

editorial

Zimbabwe today joins the globe to commemorate International Women's Day. International Women's Day is a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

It also marks a call to action to accelerate gender parity. This year's theme, "Balance for Better", resonates well with the Second Republic's vision to promote gender equality.

The vision has not been mere rhetoric, but is being matched by various efforts and initiatives being implemented to effect the required balance across the social, political and economic strata.

Last year, Zimbabwe witnessed a first, when President Mnangagwa appointed Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri to the all-powerful Defence and War Veterans portfolio.

She made history by becoming one of the only two women to hold the Defence portfolio in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region. Even the appointment of more women in Cabinet last year, increased their representation, as the Government moves to create the necessary environment for female ascendancy.

The Government has followed these elevations with economic empowerment programmes to address historical imbalances, where women have been struggling to stand on an equal economic pedestal with men.

The recent launch of the Women's Desk in the tourism ministry and the launch of the Zimbabwe's Women Microfinance Bank last year, consistent with the provisions of the Constitution, are some of the overtures that speaks to Government efforts in levelling the economic playing field.

Over the years, the significant hindrance to women's potential to achieve their greatness had been financial exclusion, which the new dispensation is now prioritising to redress through the establishment of the bank.

Even President Mnangagwa has on several platforms declared his commitment to support women in their trajectory to strengthen their involvement and participation in national development.

Tweeting on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa said: "On International Women's Day we celebrate the strong, empowered Zimbabwean women who contribute so much to our nation. We will continue to work towards full equality and further empowerment for girls and women in the new Zimbabwe."

Suffice to say, all these positive achievements have not gone down well with some people, averse to gender equality and intend to spoil the party. The recent unfortunate comments from MDC-Alliance Member of Parliament from Zengeza West Job Sikhala, who chose to denigrate the woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by MDC-Alliance president Nelson Chamisa, in an abusive tweet, are quite retrogressive and dampen efforts towards gender equality.

The woman later withdrew the charges.

The nation should outrightly reject such high levels of intolerance and misogyny, more so for elected legislators and other public office holders. Such sexist attitude impedes women empowerment and stand in the way of gender equality and equity.

Society should stand up against individuals that insult, threaten and promote sexualisation of women merely because they hold a different view. We are in the 21st century, where the globe is agitating towards gendered spaces and, as a nation, we should be in sync with global trends.

We need to call out such insensitivity and objectification of women for political expediency. As we celebrate the International Women's Day, it is critical to note that gender equality does not need many conferences, huge crowds and nicely crafted presentations from world renowned orators to promote gender equality among our people.

It takes political will, individual reflections and sound decisions on how they would want their women to be treated.

Zimbabwe

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