Women in Makoni have singled out the COVID 19 induced lockdown as the main driver of Gender Based Violence (GBV).This came out during a Heal Zimbabwe Community Monitoring training workshop on womens rights and GBV conducted in Makoni on 10 July 2020.The workshop drew women from wards 12, 13 and 37 representing the church, Village Health Workers (VHWs), Women Savings Groups and Social Accountability Teams (SATs).A total of 30 women attended the training.
The objectives of the training were to conscientize women on constitutionally provided provisions that provide for equal participation between men and women at all tiers, equip women with advocacy skills on lobbying for gender equality at all levels and then increase knowledge of women in GBV and possible steps that they can take to minimize GBV in their communities.
The training took women through constitutional provisions such as Sections 17, 52 and 80 that provide for gender balance, right to personal security and rights of women respectively. Participants were also taken through other national legislative policies such as the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act. Issues that came out during the training include the increase in cases of GBV in the area and in most cases women were on the receiving end. Participants singled out the COVID 19 induced lockdown as the main driver of GBV due to the fact that several men are unable to engage in any economic activity due to the lockdown restrictions and this in turn brought stress among most men. In most cases, conflicts in most homes are usually around the shortage of food. Participants also lamented the lack of cushioning mechanisms by government during the COVID 19 lockdowns. In Makoni several households have since reduced their meals with worst affected households surviving on one meal a day.
As measures to minimize GBV, participants made use of a conflict tree, a tool that deals with the difference between structural and dynamic factors and offer a thorough analysis of the root causes on a conflict. Participants also conducted conflict mapping, a process that focuses on actors and their interrelationships and helps to identify best placed stakeholders who can manage and mediate in conflict.
As a way forward, participants assumed the role of Anti-GBV Ambassadors with the mandate to take a lead in ending violence in different communities and also reach out to survivors of GBV during the lockdown period. The Anti-GBV Ambassadors will also document, monitor, and report cases of GBV to the relevant authorities. Their responsibility will also include compiling monthly reports on the state of human rights in their area and make referrals to institutions such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).The training by Heal Zimbabwe is one among many initiatives meant to build socially cohesive communities where respect for human rights is prioritized.