By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
10 March 2014
As the world celebrated International Women’s Day Saturday activists used the occasion to call for more rights for the women, who they said are still being marginalized.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) demanded ‘legislative reforms’ that will advance the rights of women. A statement from the organization said the government should have the political will to advance equality and non discrimination.
International Women’s Day is marked on 8th March every year and the celebrations focus on a range of issues from general respect for women to women’s economic, political and social achievements.
This year’s celebrations were held under the theme of ‘Equality for women is progress for all.’ ZLHR said it notes with concern that women continue to ‘suffer social and economic injustices perpetuated by state and non state actors through acts of both commission and omission.’
The lawyers’ organization made particular reference to situations where families have previously had their homes, demolished forcing women and children to spend nights in the cold and the rain. ZLHR also lamented the continued harassment and beating of members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise group, who were last month once again assaulted by the police soon after they had petitioned Parliament. The organization also said women in Hwange were still nursing scars of police assaults after they were ‘bludgeoned’ for peacefully demonstrating against the fact that their husband’s employer had not paid wages.
In Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union Regional Women’s Advisory Council secretary, Barbara Tanyanyiwa, called for the establishment of a ‘special court’ to deal with cases of abuse against women and young girls. Tanyanyiwa accused the ZANU PF government of not being committed to the principle of gender equality. She cited cabinet composition to illustrate her point.
There are only three women out of 26 cabinet ministers, three out of 13 ministers of state and five out of 24 deputy ministers.
President Mugabe provoked fury last year when he claimed that there were ‘not enough women’ to enable him to strike a gender balance in his cabinet announcement, despite the fact that there are a number of women in parliament.