Post-IWD Event Dialogue by WM Harare
Women’s March Harare hosted a Dialogue after International Women’s Day to discuss The role of Zimbabwean Activists in Safeguarding Women’s Rights. The discussion focused on what it means to be a woman in and survivor of conflict and moreover, the role of the Activist in conflict situations. The following is the Report by Women’s March Harare on their Dialogue Event.
Women’s March Harare chapter and its partners hosted a dialogue which provided a platform for women from all walks of life to discuss the role of activism in the world and the role it plays in Zimbabwe in providing a voice to women particularly survivors of conflict situations.
The dialogue had 5 panelists: Virginia Phiri (Author and Women’s Rights Activist) — Danai Chirawu (Women’s Rights Activist, Lawyer) — Bongai Mwanesa (Gender Specialist with UNAIDS) — Florida Mapeto (Project Officer with Adult Rape Clinic) — Tinevimbo Matambanadzo (Endometriosis Ambassador & Founder of ASIAM organization) — Tatenda Wachenuka (Chapter Ambassador) moderated the conversation.
This dialogue was motivated by the injustices that women face in situations of conflict and the lack of a functional justice system. It highlighted the factors that influence the effective safeguarding of women’s rights, as well as effects of activists themselves, for example the actual or perceived threat to the lives of activists by politicians or political parties.
The following were the take-home points from the discussion:
- Conflict inflicts suffering on everyone however women are particularly affected by its short and long term effects and this is mainly because they are the main targets of sexual assault.
- During the shut-down which happened in Zimbabwe reports of women being raped surfaced and many organisations and parliamentarians took to the internet but not much was done by the justice system which shows that there are loopholes in the justice system which fail to protect the rights of women in most of the developing world.
- There should be an appreciation of Zimbabwean Activism as it has been present since the pre-independence era but because of lack of documentation some stories are not told and given the recognition they deserve.
- We must put an end to abuse, of all kinds. Socialisation is the role of the family hence parents should teach their children to respect human life.
- Women should be each other’s keeper and make sure that we provide a support system for each other.
- There is still room to do more since abuses against women are still evident in violent and non-violent situations.
Writing books and documentation of the struggles of women during and post-conflict helps in the storytelling aspect of activism which is crucial as it adds to the history and passing down of knowledge. Documentation has helped in getting justice for women post-conflict and has aided as a way of building knowledge systems. The discussion managed to open the eyes of people in the audience on what Zimbabwean activists are already doing and the gaps which exist as well as creating a way to revive women’s voices in public and private spaces.
This dialogue around Women’s Rights must continue as abuses are sometimes deeply rooted in cultural practices which are practiced in the family unit. There is a need for women to form support structures for their fellow woman and ensure that their sister is free from any form of discrimination.
Maya Hendler is an Intern at Women’s March Global.