Gender mainstreaming: Zimbabwe caught on the wrong side


Zimbabwe- Nearly two decades after the 1995 Beijing World Conference on women, Zimbabwe is still lagging behind in the implementation of gender equality policies.

Despite the establishment of a specific ministry of women and gender development, more still needs to be done to ensure that women are integrated and accepted as equal partners in societal development.

In an interview last week, Grace Chirenje, the Director of Zimbabwe Young Women Network for Peace Building said Zimbabwe had shown great commitment through the establishment of Ministry of Women and Gender Development.

“The Ministry of Youths Development, Indigenization and Empowerment has come up with policies that ensure young women benefit from our national resources,” Chirenje said.

Virginia Muwanigwa, the Chairperson of Women Coalition of Zimbabwe added that this had paved way for gender focal persons and gender specific policies in all government ministries.

However Muwanigwa pointed out that one of the challenges faced in implementing gender mainstreaming policies is implementation. She called on men to support gender mainstreaming not necessarily for women’s sake but for true and sustained development.

“For there to be meaningful development in Zimbabwe, gender mainstreaming has to be organized in a way that addresses the differences between men and women of today,” Chipo Mabasa, a University of Zimbabwe student said.

Mabasa added that gender mainstreaming was meant to ensure that both men and women reach their developmental potential. Gender activists are also bitter that inequality is still rampant in society, calling on the society to accept women as equal partners.

“We were born equal, we need equal opportunities and society should understand that men and women have the same capabilities,” said Chirenje.

This she said would in-turn help to strengthen our economy as there will be equal participation by members of the society. Chirenje added that dual legal system allows men to prefer customary law because it gives them power over women.

In a statement released in 2010, Padare Enkhundeni Men’s forum concurred with Chirenje that the legal framework had no provision that sought to address the needs of women vis-à-vis cultural practices. Padare added that this and other extenuating factors hinder women from realizing their full potential.

Women interviewed also said society had created gender imbalances arguing that there was no reason why the same cannot address such misnomers to ensure men and women enjoy the same privileges in life.

Rhoda Sithole, a vendor at fourth street bus terminus said there is nothing queer about women being at the same level with men. “In fact there are women who can out compete men in many things. How many female builders, lawyers and doctors do we have in Zimbabwe,” she said.

With the nation suffering under economic hardships, women have been both victims and saviors of families. They were at the forefront of fending for their families but that did not mean they shunned household chores.

This Muwanigwa said can only end if there are meaningful platforms where men and women can interact and understand each other.

Millennium Development goals stipulates that member states of the United Nations should have achieved among other things, gender equality and women empowerment, Zimbabwe has not made many strides towards realizing that goal.

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