International Women’s Day: Women’s Rights are Human Rights

Mar 9, 2015

Song and dance to recognise and celebrate women during International Women's Day at the Harare International Conference Centre

The International Women’s Day was celebrated in Zimbabwe on 6 March 2015 with a call to promote gender equality and women empowerment as a basis for more sustainable growth and development in the country. The theme of the commemoration was “Beijing+20: the Journey towards women empowerment in Zimbabwe: Successes and Challenges”.  

In remarks that encapsulated the theme of the day, First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe who was the guest of honor at the colourful event held at the Rainbow Towers in Harare said that eradication of poverty and economic empowerment of women were key to achieving gender equality. The First Lady urged women to actively participate in science, engineering and mathematics and break gender stereotypes by venturing into non-traditional careers.   

Acting Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Chris Mushowe noted that Zimbabwe has made remarkable progress in the area of women empowerment and gender equality, including the enactment of the new constitution with clear provisions promoting gender equality. The Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment 20: Act 2013) has clear provisions that promote gender equality, address past gender imbalances and promote the rights of women.

To improve the status of women, the Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development is implementing targeted initiatives such as access to finance for women, broad-based women empowerment networks as well as women in health and trade programs, explained the Minister.   

Expressing the UN’s continuing commitment to work with the Government to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, the UN Resident Coordinator in Zimbabwe Mr. Bishow Parajuli stated that the United Nations is encouraged by and supports national initiatives to align all existing laws and policies to the provisions in the new Constitution.

“This process will also allow Zimbabwe to ensure that international and regional instruments signed and ratified, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the SADC Gender and Development Protocol are domesticated within national laws,” said the UN Resident Coordinator.

The UN Resident Coordinator highlighted that the strong partnership and collaboration among Government, UN, and Development Partners on sexual and reproductive health as well as HIV and AIDS services have resulted in reduction of maternal mortality by 36% over the past year.

Mr. Parajuli emphasized the need for Zimbabwe to protect and ensure the rights of women and reap the benefit from engaging more than half of the population (52% of the total population are women in Zimbabwe). This could be achieved through a deliberate policy and strategic focus including ensuring equal access to education at tertiary level through policies designed to boost enrolments; bringing women into the economic mainstream by increasing female participation rates in skills development, formal sector employment, and agricultural extension programmes; and increased participation of women in governance and political decision making at all levels including in political parties.

In a statement to mark the day—commemorated globally on 8 March—UNDP Administrator Helen Clark recalled that one of the great achievements of the Beijing Platform for Action was the clear recognition that women’s rights are human rights. Since that historic gathering in Beijing, when 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists gathered to voice and demonstrate their support for gender equality and women’s empowerment, there has been increasing recognition that gender equality, in addition to being a human right, is also critical to making development progress.

 “If women and girls are not able to fully realize their rights and aspirations in all spheres of life, development will be impeded” stated the Administrator, adding that by promoting gender equality and empowering women as agents of change and leaders in the development processes which shape their lives, UNDP envisages a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient world.Click / tap here to start editing

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