Gender inequality remains one of the obstacles to development and worldwide. Zimbabwe tops among other African countries whose levels of women’s participation and representation is way below 50% despite gender equality targets of 50/50 as articulated in various regional and global instruments aimed at the advancement of women across sectors.
In Zimbabwe, the 2013 Constitution provides for gender equality and non-discrimination. It also clearly provides for the rights of women including participation and representation in socio-economic and political life.
Building on longtime calls and efforts by young women, and various womens’ rights and civil society organisations for policy and legislative frameworks to implement the constitutional provisions, the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) have upped the pressure on the government to enact a Gender Equality Law by drafting and presenting a Model Gender Equality Bill (MGEB) to law makers.
Speaking on stakeholder meetings to deliberate on the MGEB and seek input from various sectors of society including Women’s rights and community based organisations, activists, representatives from independent commissions and lawmakers, the Team Leader for Institute for Young Women Development Glanis Changachirere emphasized that the MGEB is just a model, not the actual law, as the lawmaking process resides with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Member of Parliament and Gender Portfolio Committee Member Honourable Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga commended the organisations for their efforts. She said that it was good to see that women’s organisations have upped their game by talking to the relevant policy makers by providing such a progressive template as opposed to talking to themselves without offering practical alternatives.
The Model Gender Equality Bill provides expansive provisions for representation of women, young women and people living with disabilities among other groups who are structurally discriminated. It also provides for frameworks for inclusion of women in government institutions and in the private sector by recommending establishment of gender units.
The drafting of the MGEB comes timely as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has embarked on consultative processes to inform direction and scope for gender equality laws. With strategic organizing, the women’s movement’s is poised for some revolutionary wins in this area as per the aspirations of the Beijing Platform for Action.
The MGEB, is an advocacy and mobilization tool which is available for use by all organisations and sectors wishing to see the institutionalization of gender equality.
This will address a lot of historical discriminatory practices, norms and beliefs and make sure no one is left behind as per the United Nations principle towards on Sustainable Development Goals.