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This issue of the newsletter focuses particularly on activities WLSA implemented in May  2023

Headlines : National policy symposium of justice actors on management of SGBV, High level inter-generational dialogue on women's political participation and Patriarchy continues to hinder Women’s Political participation in Zimbabwe.

National Policy Symposium of Justice Actors on Management of SGBV

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Group Photo During the National Policy Symposium of Justice Actors on Management of SGBV 

Gender inequalities in Zimbabwe are deeply rooted in social norms, values, and traditions that restrict women's roles and contributions. This has led to high rates of SGBV and discrimination against women and girls, despite progressive laws and policies promoting gender equality.

Women and Law in Southern Africa in partnership with UNDP Zimbabwe under the Spotlight Initiative convened the National Policy Symposium of Justice Actors on Management of Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

The purpose of the dialogue was to analyse the role of courts or law enforcement agencies in the effective implementation of laws that protect women and girls from all forms of violence as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

A total of 30 people from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Zimbabwe Republic Police VFU (ZRP), Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission ZACC, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCC), Ministry of Women Affairs Community and Small and Medium Enterprise Development, (MWACSMED) and Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) attended symposium.

Speaking during the National Policy Symposium of Justice Actors on Management of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Women and Law in Southern Africa Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Walter Chole said gender based violence survivors face hurdles in accessing permanent places of safety. The available places of safety are temporary and at times they are only for the duration of the trial.

“Coordination of the SGBV service providers has been a perennial challenge. For instance, it is not clear what happened to the Anti-Domestic Violence Council. There is a need for advocacy around this. There has been a tendency for the justice actors to be more concerned with statistics at the expense of access to quality services,” said Walter Chole

National Prosecuting Authority, National Inspectorate Mr Kumire presented on the Age of Consent in Zimbabwe. In his presentation, he discussed the definition of a "minor" and the conflict between the definition in Section 61 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and Section 81 (1) of the Constitution. He also touched on the rebuttable presumptions for children aged between 12 and 14, which creates a conflict with the Marriage Act.

“The current section 61 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) defines a minor as someone under the age of 16, which contradicts the definition in Section 81 (1) of the Constitution, where a young person is defined as someone under the age of 18”, said Mr Kumire

Key takeaways from the Symposium

  • Age of consent should be increased to 18. The Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act should be amended so that the age is in conformity with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
  • Multi-sectoral Capacity Building
  • Community Awareness campaigns on role of the court (Church, traditional leadership Institutions of Higher learning and Schools).
  • Holistic Legal reform (GBV related laws) (Age of consent, Termination of Pregnancy, Child Marriages).

High level Inter-Generational Dialogue on Women's Political Participation 

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Guest of Honor – Hon Vice President RTD General and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr DGN Chiwengwa

Women and Law in Southern Africa , in partnership with  UN Women Zimbabwe, African Women Leadership Network - Zimbabwe and Hivos with support from International IDEA convened the High-level intergenerational dialogue on Women's Political Participation in Harare recently.

The main purpose of the High level dialogue was to create a platform for regional and  global solidarity for women political participation (WPP)  in Zimbabwe as the country heads towards the 23 August harmonised elections. The dialogue was used as a tool to strengthen intergenerational dialogue to retain  women leaders already in public  political office, mentor and empower young women leaders to enhance their leadership capacities in politics and Decision making.

Speaking during the intergenerational dialogue on women's political participation, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who was representing President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Intergenerational partnerships improve communication between generations. They allow for the introduction of young women to the political arena and a platform for identifying new talent to politics.

"My government is committed to the inclusion of women in governance and electoral processes. A culture of positive masculinity should be encouraged at all levels from the males leaders to the young boy across the social strata," Vice President Chiwenga said

Speaking the same event former President of the Senate, Mrs Edna Madzongwe said “As a young MP, you need to establish that women are intelligent by debating with intelligence. Be aware that you can move motions on addressing what is wrong in the society. It is high time women are respected for their knowledge and nothing else.”

As Zimbabwe gears for the 2023 harmonised national elections, Women and Law in Southern  Zimbabwe, make the following specific recommendations and calls for:

1. PEACE an essential ingredient for free, fair and credible elections. PEACE and freedom from gender-based violence fosters women’s effective participation in the political process. Tinokumbirisa Runyararo munyika!

2. 50:50 Gender Parity: Full support for women's effective participation to realise the gender parity 50.50 principle within Constitution, thus seeking full support of women as candidates, as voters, as elections administrators and in the media. We call for the implementation of the quota for women in local government.

3. Zero tolerance to violence against women and girls during elections and in our
communities, including on sexual abuse and child rape of girls. We make a special call, urge, request for immediate action against paedophiles and rapists who break
Zimbabwe’s laws on child marriage and hide behind culture or religion. The sanctity of our religion and sacred protective value of our culture should not be abused by criminals masquerading as “husbands” to minors.

4. Regional solidarity: Women and Law in Southern Africa stand for peace at regional level (SADC) and indeed at the continental level. As Women and Law in Southern Africa  we stand with our sisters in Mozambique and in Sudan at this moment as they strive for peace. In this regard, we echo their call for participation in peace processes, protection from gender based violence and gender responsive humanitarian assistance including for the people displaced in refugee camps.

5. Government, partners and friends of Women and Law in Southern Africa  in Zimbabwe and beyond to continue to walk the journey with us as women and young women, as we take forward the implementation of the outcome of our High Level Inter-Generational Dialogue on women's political participation.

      Patriarchy continues to hinder Women’s Political participation in Zimbabwe

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      Kwekwe Councillor Mrs Dongo doing a presentation during the dialogue session  

      Women’s political participation is crucial for advancing gender equality and ensures that diverse perspectives and experiences are represented in decision making.


      A dialogue session organised by Women and Law in Southern Africa “Thematic Dialogue Session with Elections Management Body, Political Parties and Parliament” highlighted that patriarchy continues to hinder Women’s Political participation. The purpose of the dialogue was to share women's experiences in electoral processes both in political parties and in the national electoral processes administered by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.


      MDC legislator, Memory Mbondiya chronicled how her relatives did not support her when she contested in her rural area in 2013. She recounted:


      "When I contest  in  election in 2013, I lost the primaries in my ward in my own rural area. Even my own relatives did not believe in me because I am a woman. When you are a female politician, people will lie and denigrate you, so much that even your partner will dump you."


      Josephine Shava, a legislator from Mashonaland West echoed the same troubles faced by women, saying despite winning the primary elections, she was forced to step down and give way to the male candidate who had  lost to her.


      All the present legislators reiterated that gender based violence in political spaces including name calling is done by both women and men however the women cited that they were abused more by youths and women.


      During the thematic session, the participants discussed the necessity of achieving equal representation for women in parliament. They emphasised the importance of ensuring a 50/50 representation in leadership positions and urged political parties to facilitate women's equal involvement in politics.


      Training of trainers on drafting and reviewing laws and policies that promote and protect the work of Women Human Rights Defenders.

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      Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) are at the forefront of advocating for women's rights and gender equality. Their activism has led to policy changes, legal reforms, and increased recognition of women's rights as human rights. WHRDs are playing a crucial role in challenging discriminatory laws and practices, such as those related to violence against women, reproductive rights, and gender-based discrimination.


      Women and Law in Southern Africa- Zimbabwe in partnership with UNDP Africa, African Union, African Union Women, Gender & Youth Directorate under the Spotlight Initiative conducted the training of trainers on drafting and reviewing laws and policies that promote and protect the work of Women human rights defenders.


      The training sought to enhance the capacity of regional partners and CSOs to better promote, advocate and influence member states on drafting, reviewing and implementing laws and policies that promote and protect the work of human rights defenders.


      Speaking during the training of trainers on drafting and reviewing laws and policies that promote and protect the work of Women human rights defenders, Stanley Nyamanhindi from Southern African Development Cooperation Lawyers Association (SADC LA) said the dignity of Women Human Rights Defenders is under an escalated threat in manners that are even sexual.


      “The obligation to protect requires states to exercise due diligence in preventing, punishing and redressing the harm caused by private parties,” said Stanley Nyamanhindi


      A total of 86 people attended the training key, including Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Southern African Development Cooperation Lawyers Association (SADC LA) and Members States.



      📷 WLSA Zimbabwe :Intergenerational Dialogue 

      (From Left - Right) Hon. Kwaramba- Zimbabwe ,Hon Shally- Tanzania,Irish Ambassador Her Excellency Gilsenan Fionnuala, SG Hon. Sekgoma- SADC, Hon Mpariwa - Zimbabwe, Hon Esparon - Seychelles and Hon Gadama- Malawi.

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      WLSA conducts action research in the seven countries of Southern Africa namely Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The essence of action research is that we inform, advise and take action during the research.  In essence, we educate women about their legal rights, providing legal advice, questioning and challenging the law.

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