WOZA calls on Zimbabweans to beat the drum of peace and development to break the silence on violence
WOZA joins the rest of the world’s activists in campaigning for an end to gender-based violence in the year 2013. To mark the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, the organisation chose to look beyond the sphere of physical violence to consider the position of women in a society which perpetrates systemic violence and socio-economic disadvantage. Violence against women includes the range of abuses committed against women that stem from gender inequality and women’s subordinate status in society relative to men.
WOZA, an organisation of human rights defenders campaign against violence in all its forms all year long, but chose to march on women human rights defenders day 29 November 2013 to raise the profile of this special day. WOZA will march the same route they marched on this day in 2006 to launch their peoples charter. On this day over a hundred members were beaten and arrested, broken limbs of adults and a baby the brunt of police baton sticks.
To mobilise for this special day, WOZA conducted a survey amongst a total of 7 180 of its members, with 6 428 being women, to investigate their perceptions of women’s position in their communities. Special attention was paid on whether women’s economic status was improving or deteriorating. Members were asked to comment on a series of statements arrived at as a result of the discussion around the ZANU PF Elections theme, the “Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) and the continuing engendered analysis of development on how women were fulfilling their role in their homes and in society. Since the universal 16 Days of activism campaign calls for more substantial responses on the part of governments to act with due diligence in protecting and preventing gender-based violence, members were also required to give comments regarding benefits from government development programmes.
The results were clear. 81% of WOZA Harare and Bulawayo members do not believe that women are respected and do not believe that violence against them has ceased. 89% of member do not believe that they will be able to benefit from the ZANU PF’s indigenization policies, and 68,2% expressed that the police harassment and criminalization of women informal traders must stop for socio economic growth but many called for job creation as an alternative. All believed that women were working very hard to create food security for their families, but many noted that this was done against all odds. The vast majority believe the development situation in their communities had deteriorated. They do not believe that ZANU PF will implement the new constitution effectively.
The responses show great disillusionment with and distrust of government and a keen sense of the disadvantages felt by women in spite of their hard work to provide for their families. The scars that women bear today are not just a result of physical violence but are deep rooted in years of poor governance by the state, emotional and psychological manipulation in the home, community and workplace as well as deliberate marginalization of women in all spheres of life. It does not need to be physical violence for women to bear the scars of abuse. In a list of demands contained in the report, WOZA members demand Free primary education was promised, but children are still chased away from school due to non-payment of fees; A programme and funding plan for the better roads promised by the president in his inauguration speech and an initial position was taken against the proposed urban toll gate project. Members also demand land, inputs and to be shared equally among men and women and in a non partisan framework.
Moreover, women and youth are waiting for the re-opening of industries to create employment and the detailed plan as to how these firms will create 2 million jobs with a living wage as promised during campaigns. The same group of citizens demand income generating projects for women and these projects should be distributed in a non partisan system. The vulnerable and the disadvantaged in communities, such as the elderly, the orphans, disabled and widowed are still suffering and being made to complete food aid forms to no avail. WOZA members demand home ownership; city council should build homes for people and there should be transparency in the distribution of stands. Residents are tired of being lodgers and paying high rentals. Last but not least, they demand the ZimAsset programme to urgently provide affordable and nutritious home grown food and to put women first in all the ZimAsset implementation programmes WOZA made additionally recommendations on a number of premises that include devolution, activation of the constitution, working public institutions, community involvement, civic education, as well as justice and fairness.
See the full report on our website at the following link WOZA Report Zim beat the drum of peace and development to break the silence on violence