Gender Based Violence an Obstacle toward Women Empowerment
The 21st century saw a rise in the number of feminism institutions and a multiple of treaties on women’s rights and gender equality has been signed. With the erection of such institutions the lives of women have improved in a commendable way.
However, in as much as the world is talking about gender equality, women empowerment and women rights, most women in rural Zimbabwe continue to suffer in the hands of patriarchal society. Some societies are still backward on this particular issue; women in these societies are still suffering. More evident is still the myth associated with women in political positions, who up until today constitute a limited representation in leadership despite the introduction of the Quota System of late.
Section 80 of the Zimbabwean constitution provides for women’s rights and Zimbabwe is also a signatory to a various regional and international conventions, treaties, declarations and protocols that aim to create an enabling environment for achieving gender equality and women’s participation which include the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (2008), Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (AU Women’s Protocol) and Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In 2015 UN launched the SDGs and goal number 5 talks gender equality and Zimbabwe is also a signatory. All these legal frameworks present the moral ground in promoting women participation however, the practical dimension to their empowerment is still minimal.
Women and girls are still victims of violence and so many cases are not reported. Research shows that violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world.
A number of women are yet to receive accurate information on gender equality and women rights. Some societies mistaken this issue to man hate yet it promotes the coexistence of both sexes and gender equality. Approximately 45,000 cases of gender based violence were reported last year. Culture, religion and customs provides an obstacle to the progression that has been forwarded so far if less education and transformative behavioral change in formation is limited to women and the society at large.
As the world prepares to reflect on the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, young people must analyze and speak against all kinds of forces that undermine the health, dignity, security and autonomy of women as equal players in socio, political and economic development of the nation. It needs the government to partner with women’s organizations and make sure that all women in Zimbabwe have received education on how to fight for their rights. All has been said and done, the greatest partner in addressing the current equality woes is the involvement of citizens and the ability to penetrate all fabrics of society and be able to educate and influence customs, norms and beliefs that have been posing a negation towards inclusive development that respects all genders.