Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Rural Women. The theme for this year is “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”. This years’ theme places empowerment of rural women at the heart of fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Rural women are often exposed to all forms of abuse due to poverty, patriarchy and marginalisation.The main forms of violence against women that are experienced during times of conflicts relate (but are not limited) to theft, physical abuse and assault, psychological abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault (including rape), reproduction violence which can be linked to sexual violence (such as unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, complications from high risk pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases) and exploitation such as overpricing of goods and services.
The theme for this year is a clarion call for governments across the world to put in place infrastructure and services that ensure that rural women and girls are empowered and protected from abuse and vulnerabilities such as political violence. In pursuit of SDG 5 (that provides for Gender equality), Heal Zimbabwe has since its inception worked with rural women by establishing community structures such as community peace clubs, Community Action Accountability Teams (CAATs) and Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation(WSSR). Through these community structures rural women have defied odds by rallying communities together for peace building initiatives such as collaborative neutral platforms (nhimbes) that help build social cohesion and peace in local communities. Rural women have also managed to engage with various community stakeholders such as Traditional leaders and local government structures to champion development and peace in their communities. With the assistance of HZT, the women have managed to mediate conflicts and conduct peace dialogues within their communities. The CAATs have also empowered women to participate actively in developmental issues such as budget consultations.
On the occasion of this historic day, Heal Zimbabwe calls upon the Government to fully operationalize the Zimbabwe Gender Commission by availing adequate resources so that it can effectively fulfill its constitutional mandate of “investigating possible violations related to gender and recommend prosecution for criminal violations of rights relating to gender”.