ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN), celebrates the recent ruling on the 20th of January 2016 by the Constitutional Court that outlaws child marriages in Zimbabwe. Whilst this is welcome, we are calling on government to make the bold step to increase financing to ensure that concrete actions are taken towards making this ruling a reality for young girls. This includes the provision of adequate resources for implementing the nationwide campaign to end child marriages, alignment of existing laws to the Constitution, education of young girls, and effective gender policy implementation.
Over the years ZWRCN has raised concern over the inadequacy of resources from the national budget aimed at promoting gender equality or closing existing gender gaps in Zimbabwe. For example, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development has been receiving less than 1% of the overall budget for many years. Part of the Ministry’s mandate is to promote the welfare of young girls. How can the Ministry be effective in doing this with such few resources? With so many reported cases of incest and sexual assault of young girls, important blueprints such as the national gender based violence strategy (2012 – 2015), for example, could not be fully implemented due to limited resources. This situation must change. Financing to promote the rights of young girls must be a national priority.
ZWRCN joins the rest of the country in applauding the two girls involved in this constitutional case, Veritas, Roots, and all the human rights activists and defenders who have been toiling day and night to ensure that child marriages are banned. We look forward to a better Zimbabwe, with empowered young women who will contribute towards the development of our country.