The government and non-governmental organisations working towards women’s empowerment pledged their support for the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV), during the official launch of Orange Day, a campaign for the elimination of violence against women and girls.
Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs Gender and Community Development, Chris Mushowe, officially launched the Orange Day commemorations in Zimbabwe at an event organised by UN Women, Tag a Life International (TaLI) , The Women’s Trust and the Department of Foreign Affairs within the Embassy of Denmark.
In his address, Mushowe mentioned that his ministry is making efforts to see the successful implementation of the National GBV Strategy through their four ‘P’s campaign whose thrust is towards prevention, protection, programmes and participation.
He added that the new constitutional provisions – which including the adoption of quotas for female politicians and the mooting of a Gender Commission – were a clear indication of the government’s support to end GBV.
TaLi Director, Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, however, highlighted that the gains of independence almost 35 years ago were meaningless if women were continuously falling victims to GBV.
“Was independence just for men?” she asked.
Mashayamombe further called on the Harare City Council and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to ensure that the streets are safe for women and girls to walk freely without facing any dangers of harassment.
Chairperson of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) Virginia Muwanigwa echoed the same sentiments and spoke against the last year’s incident of a young woman who was stripped by kombi touts in Harare.
“When we use the word ‘mini-skirt’, it is subjective and depends who is talking,” she argued. “If the touts were worried about her dress being short, doesn’t it make it worse that she was no longer dressed after they had stripped her?”
Also in attendance was the UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe, Reza Hossaini, who commended the joint efforts displayed by government and NGOs towards the reduction of GBV cases.
“This gathering here is a demonstration of breaking the culture of silence, the culture of acceptance and the culture of impunity,” he stated. “The media reportage of some horrific cases of rape and violence in the past year, especially the story of the woman’s stripping at the bus stop, is a sign that we are moving away from that culture of silence.”
Stating the importance of gender equality to poverty reduction Denmark’s Head of Mission to Zimbabwe, Eric Brogger Rasmussen, shared that his country had set aside approximately $US 5 million towards reducing the prevalence of gender based violence, in particular sexual violence, against women and children.
Orange Day is an initiative of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, as a follow up to the annual 16 Days of Activism against GBV. The first commemorations were held on the 25th of November 2014, which coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A monthly event, the UN encourages countries around globe to show solidarity and commitment to ending violence against women and girls every 25th day of the month.
In March 2015, governments and civil society from all over the world will convene at the UN Headquarters in New York to discuss progress on the implementation of commitments to women and girls 20 years on from the Beijing Platform for Action to which Zimbabwe is a party.