Women who are part of Heal Zimbabwe Community Peace Clubs (CPCs) have bemoaned the lack of awareness by various stakeholders on constitutional rights for women and noted that this is fuelling Gender Based Violence (GBV). This came out during a GBV training conducted by Heal Zimbabwe in Buhera on 24 July 2020.
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 increase knowledge of women in GBV and possible steps that they can take to minimize GBV in their communities. The training took participants through the process of conflict mapping and conflict mediation. These processes help participants to conduct a thorough analysis of the root causes of a conflict, identify parties to the conflict and identify best placed local level stakeholders who can manage and mediate in the conflict.
Issues that came out during the training included the slow pace that has characterised the implementation of sections 17,52 and 80 of the constitution that provide for gender balance, right to personal security and rights of women respectively. Participants noted that gender balance is still to be achieved even at the lowest level as most local structures such as School Development Committees (SDCs) and Village Development Committees (VIDCOS) were yet to provide for 50/50 representation. Participants also bemoaned the lack of awareness on women rights by relevant stakeholders and highlighted that this made women unaware of their rights. Participants attributed this lack of information on womens rights as the major driver of GBV in local communities. The restrictive COVID 19 lockdown regulations in most cases made it difficult for women to report cases of GBV to the police.
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.