Gwanda organisation promotes women's constitutional rights

By Loveness Nyathi

THE adoption of a new Constitution in 2013 brought with it a new wave of gender equality laws that had previously not been there, giving hope to women of much needed equality in all spheres of society.

As part of measures to have more women in national leadership positions, a provision (Section 124 (b) was enacted through which 60 seats in Parliament would be reserved for women based on proportional representation.

However, the clause will be effective until 2023, the end of the country’s second parliament after the adoption of the new constitution and beyond that there is question on how many women will make it to the august house.

A Gwanda organisation believes promoting other sections of the Constitution that advocate gender equality should be prioritised as the country heads towards 2023.

The Gwanda Community Economic Justice Trust has started promoting Section 17 of the Constitution to ensure gains made over the years are not eroded.

The organisation’s director, Lungile Masuku said they have started rolling out awareness programmes on Section 17 and 56 which address gender equality as a way of mitigating the end of quota seats in 2023.

“Sometimes what is written down is not what is practiced and we believe many are not putting into practice these two sections and the number of female representatives is not adequate beyond the quota.

“We are holding awareness campaigns as we want to ensure the Constitution is implemented and women also know their rights and can challenge Government and other bodies which are not implementing these provisions,” she said.

Section 17 of the Constitution reads -: (1) The state must promote full gender balance in Zimbabwean society and in particular; (a) the state must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men; (b) the state must take all measures, including legislative measures, needed to ensure that (i) both genders are equally represented in all institution and agencies of government at every level; and (ii) women constitute at least half the membership of all commissions and other elective and appointed government bodies established by or under this constitution or any act of Parliament and (c) the state and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take practical measures to ensure that women have access to resources, including land, on the basis of equality with men.

(2) The state must take positive measurers to rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past practices and policies.

The NGO is also fighting for the economic empowerment of women and Gwanda community.

Masuku said they assisted women to form a mining consortium but are yet to fully get their licenses as they hit a brick wall following changes to mining claims laws.

“With Gwanda being predominantly a mining town we are fighting to ensure the community benefits from the profits through being forced to accede five percent of the gains. Leaving companies to decide on the corporate social responsibility only will see them making token gestures,” she