By Joyce Mukucha
In a way of empowering women and protecting their rights, the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) is developing programmes aimed at ensuring that women who are subjected to persecution, torture and other forms of abuse receive rehabilitative treatment and support.
As proposed in the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Act (NPRC) that there should be post-conflict justice, healing and reconciliation, the WCOZ has realised the importance for the commission to include women and engage them to make sure that they live in a society where they completely enjoy their rights.
During a workshop which was held on the 8th of February 2018 in Harare, women representatives from different organisations discussed factors that undermine the healing and reconciliation process from a women’s rights perspectives.
The workshop was run under the theme: “Zimbabwean society where women and girls fully enjoy their rights.”
Ronika Mumbire, the vice chairperson of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe averred that NPRC should include women and it ought to be a commission which is gender parity. She said it was the role of WCoZ to make sure that opportunities and mechanisms were available at local level in as far as the healing of women is concerned.
“We are here to give our recommendations to the NPRC as an approach of paving a way on how the rights of women can be protected and recognised. There is no need to abuse women. We need a conducive environment that allows women to participate freely without fear.
“Women have been disadvantaged for quite a long time. We feel that we should feel like everybody else. What needs to be done is to implement policies and make sure that when all processes are happening women are well represented. Women must live in a country that is peaceful and peace should be today, tomorrow, forever for women. Thereby NPRC as a commission should be committed to embrace women in all processes,” she said.
Linda Masarira, an aspiring MP for Harare Central and an Independent Founder of National Coordinator Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance said it was vital for NPRC to prioritise women’s rights and start engaging with rural women who have been abused during electoral period in Zimbabwe to guarantee that they are safe, healed and continue to live peacefully.
She suggested that political party violence against women must come to an end as it causes them to live in fear.
“In rural areas, women are raped and tortured and there are still living in the same environment with no efforts being taken to address such evil deeds. There is need to make sure that these women have access to counselling.
“The perpetrators are protected because of their party line. In areas like Mutoko and Mt Darwin, during 2008 elections women were victimised. Women have carried the burden of election period in Zimbabwe. Therefore, NPRC should stop looking at the post-conflict but rather focus on what is happening leading to suffering of women.
“As elections are approaching, we find that women in politics are being violated and this need to be addressed. Zaleria Makari, the MP of Epworth Constituency was stoned, Joice Mujuru was beaten last week and last year Thokozani Khupe was hit by party thugs. That is unacceptable in our society, violence is still ongoing and there are remedies at national level which need to be put in place to curb violence, ”Masarira said.
Regardless of the perpetrators on party line, she said, the criminals must be taken to court of laws and get arrested because of the fact that women have the rights and they should be respected as mothers who nurture the society.
Maureen Shonge, a representative of UN Women urged the NPRC to include women and make their substantial contributions meaningful. She said in terms of reporting there should be a chapter on gender aspects
She indicated that there should be coordination and dissemination of information grounded on protecting women’s rights. Other women who participated at the workshop pointed out that Government should desist from using violence.