By Lungile Moyo
WOMEN’S organisations from Bulawayo say Gender Based Violence (GBV) acts as a hindrance for women to participate in decision making and policy formulation.
Speaking at a public engagement meeting organised by Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) Bulawayo Chapter held at Homestead Bulawayo, organisational representatives at the meeting concurred that GBV has impacted women negatively in that they end up not partaking in decision making and policy framing platforms in the work place and in any other sectors.
Speaking during the meeting Nhlanhla Gumpo from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority said that women in communities lack knowledge and education on their rights and this is the reason why they cannot take part in decision making.
“Women in communities should be mobilised, get educated about violence and abuse so that they are empowered and in that way they will be able to take part in decision and policy making”, said Gumpo.
Asked about lack of change on cases of violence and abuse, Precious Simango, the Chief Inspector from Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said that most women don’t report cases of abuse or take their spouse to court because they depend on their spouses for finances most of the times.
“Women depend on men most of the times and thus they don’t want to report domestic violence or take their spouse to court because they are afraid of losing the bread winner of the family”, said Simango.
Speaking to Amakhosikazi Media Sikhululekile Moyo Councillor from ward 17 said that socialisation, patriarchy and religion also influence GBV issues.
“Women’s patriarchal background, socialisation as well as their religious background has impacted them in many ways and these factors have led women to think that they are secondary citizens and they cannot make decisions or be in leadership positions in their communities”, said Moyo.
She also added that socially men and women don’t have knowledge on their rights and that men as well should be educated about the rights of women so that they understand them.
An official from the Ministry of Justice said that 50/50 is talked about every day, but is not yet fully implemented on the ground as there is still a huge gap between men and women. She urged women to stop having the mentality that men do much better than them and advised them to empower and love one another in the communities.
A representative of the Ministry of Women Affairs present at the meeting advised women to know their rights. She encouraged to get information and know that they have the right to own properties, and that widows have the right to inherit the property of their husbands.
Asked why they organised the meeting Mildred Sandi the chairperson of WCOZ Bulawayo chapter as well as the director of DP Foundation said they organised this meeting to present and share gendered challenges affecting women’s participation in policy and decision making process. She said the meeting was also to help put forward solutions to enhance the participation of women in policy and decision making processes as well as develop a work plan for the monitoring and impact evaluation to address the identified challenges.
“We organised this meeting to raise awareness and understanding on section 56 of the constitution which says that women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres; and to commemorate 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence. We also realised that it is important for women and men to have equal rights without discrimination”, said Sandi.
She also added that the meeting was based on section 56 of Zimbabwe new constitution which talks about equality and non- discrimination.