Heal Zimbabwe statement on International Day of Rural women

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Heal Zimbabwe Trust joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of Rural Women. The United Nations’ (UN) international Day of Rural Women celebrates and acknowledges the role of rural women on 15 October each year. It recognizes rural women’s importance in enhancing agricultural and rural development.

The theme for this year, “Rural Women and Girls building climate resilience”, underscores the need for collective effort against combating climate change since rural women are at the fore front of the battle lines when natural resources and agriculture are threatened.HZT acknowledges that women are major players in ensuring community development. They play an important role in peace building right from the home to the society at large. HZT works with diverse groups of rural women all around Zimbabwe and has established Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation (WSSR), these are platforms where women of different age groups, backgrounds and political persuasions meet fortnightly to discuss pertinent issues that affect them specifically as women. Added to this, Heal Zimbabwe also Community Accountability Action Teams (CAAT) which are also women led groups that    raise awareness and demand for social accountability, good governance and democracy within their communities.

Through these structures, rural women have broken cultural barriers and have become peace champions in their local communities. This is despite the fact that during violent conflicts, men and women suffer but the impact is greater on women. During violent conflicts such as the 2008 violence women had to struggle to ensure peace for themselves and their families in addition to providing for their children. Such a scenario has brought the regional, international as a well as domestic law under the spotlight in as far as measuring their effectiveness in protecting rural women is concerned. The convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) recommends equal access and full participation of women in power structures and their full involvement in all spheres of life including peace building efforts for the prevention and resolution of conflict. Supporting the call to have women as peace builders is United Nations Security Council Resolution 1326 of 200 which calls for equal representation of women in peace and security negotiations and policy making.

HZT calls upon the Government to fully provide adequate resources for the Gender Commission, a commission charged to conduct research into issues relating to gender and social justice, and to recommend changes to laws and practices which lead to discrimination based on gender. Availing funding for this important commission will ensure that it conducts robust activities in local communities where rural women are stationed. Added to this, the Gender Commission must also decentralize its activities to ward level.  
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