WALPE’s Commemorations of 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV)
As part of commemorating this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence which ran under the theme” Orange the world: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect, WALPE conducted a series of activities to advocate for an end to all forms of violence against women in politics. The organisation also took advantage of the opportunity to advocate for women’s full participation in political processes, and also recognized women political leaders who have made outstanding achievements, and also honoured those who have been persecuted for being human rights, civil and political activists.
Below is a list of the activities WALPE conducted:
1. Press statement on the state of wellbeing of women human rights defenders and political activists in Zimbabwe.
On the 25th`of November 2020, WALPE released a statement on the state of wellbeing of women human rights defenders and political activists in Zimbabwe detailing how both covert and overt violence is affecting the participation of women in leadership and decision making processes. Cases of torture, arbitrary arrests, assault, abductions, sexual violence and online violence against women in politics have been rampant in 2020 and exacerbated by the COVID19 induced lockdown and restrictions.
2. Radio program: Implications of violence on women and women with disabilities’ participation in leadership and decision making processes.
WALPE, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust and Mutasa Youth Forum with support from Christian Aid on the 25th of November facilitated a radio session on Radio Zimbabwe discussing the implications of violence on women and women with disabilities’ participation in leadership and decision making processes. The program brought out the implications of all forms of violence on women’s participation in politics, from domestic violence, public violence, sexual harassment, cyber bullying, assault, arbitrary arrests, rape and abductions. The radio programme received a lot of attention especially from women who reside in rural areas most of whom reached out to WALPE to be part of its mentorship academy.
3. Sending out Love Letters to women human rights defenders and political activists who are survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
WALPE also sent out love letters to women human rights defenders and political activists who are survivors of GBV every day from the 25th of November to the 10th of December. This was a way of celebrating and honoring women who have been persecuted for standing up for their rights. This was accompanied by online protests against the surge of violence against women human rights defenders and activists in Zimbabwe. The organisation raised awareness on the effects of online violence on women leaders and how it affects their participation in leadership and decision making processes.
4. Documentary on the impact of violence on women’s right to participate and represent.
The organisation released a documentary on 26 November detailing the impact of Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW) and violence on women’s participation and representation in leadership and decision making processes. Women human rights defenders and political activists were interviewed and they clearly narrated how these two challenges continue to affect their full participation in leadership. UCDW is one of the major drawbacks to women’s political participation as women spend most of their time doing domestic and unpaid work instead of taking part and contributing to community and national development processes and paid work.
5. Male Engagement on UCDW and eradication of all forms of violence against women and girls.
On the 27th of November 2020, WALPE with the support from OXFAM conducted a virtual male engagement meeting on Mainstreaming Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW) and eradicating all forms violence against women and girls. The session was attended by 50 male champions for equality drawn from various provinces.
Presentations on how UCDW and violence is inhibiting women from reaching their full potential were put forward. Emphasis was made on the importance of sharing UCDW and the men in attendance pledged to recognize, reduce and redistribute UCDW and free women from the burden. They also promised to recruit more gender champions and raise awareness amongst fellow men and boys on the need to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
The majority of women bear the brunt of UCDW to a point where they cannot do other productive or profitable work as compared to their male counterparts. Most importantly, the majority of women lag behind in taking up leadership and decision making processes as they spend most of their time doing unpaid care and domestic work.
Key takeaways from the discussion include;
· Men taking up some of the duties that are done by women at home.
· To spread awareness around UCDW and how men and boys can ease the burden on women and girls.
· To lobby the Government to put in place policy frameworks on UCDW.
· Government to give grants to women for taking care of children.
· Both men and women should advocate and push for women to be in top leadership positions.
· To raise awareness in communities on the ills of GBV.
· Men to work hand in glove with women in pushing for the enactment of a sexual harassment policy that protects women and women in politics from all forms of harassment.
6. Online presentation on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Platform: The importance of creating a conducive environment for young women to realize their full potential.
Four aspiring young women leaders participated at the online Zimbabwe Human Rights platform on facebook on 30 November 2020 where they highlighted the importance of Government, political parties, traditional and religious leaders, men and boys to be at the forefront of ending all forms of violence against young women in leadership. Various forms of both covert and overt GBV were highlighted and how they continue to restrict young women from actively participating in political processes. The women leaders emphasized that the Government must do everything in its power to stop cyber bullying as it is now forcing women to shy away from the online space.
7. Transformative Feminist Leadership Capacity building sessions in Chiredzi.
WALPE in partnership with Self Help Development Foundation (SHDF) with support from US Embassy trained 100 aspiring women and women with disabilities leaders in two groups of 50s in transformative feminist leadership in Chiredzi between 01- 05 December 2020. The training programme which coincided with the commemorations of the 16 days of activism against GBV covered 10 module sessions on how women can effectively run for public office and what is expected of them in the event of being elected public officials. The trained women leaders also took the opportunity to raise awareness amongst community members on the negative effects of GBV on women’s political participation at both local and national level.
8. Mobilizing women to run for public office- Mutasa 16 days of Activism against GBV Commemorations.
On the 5th of December, WALPE in partnership with Deaf Zimbabwe Trust and Mutasa Youth Forum held a session of mobilizing women and women with disabilities (WWDs) to run for public office in Mutasa district. The event which was organized by aspiring women leaders was attended by 50 community members who were taken through strategies for mobilizing and rallying people to support women leadership. Discussions on how to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls were made and the community members vowed to take it upon themselves to raise awareness on GBV and mobilise both women and men to vote for women and WWDs in leadership and decision making processes.
9. Parliamentary engagements on: Implications of UCDW on women in the Era of COVID19.
WALPE with the support from OXFAM engaged the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Planning and the Women’s Caucus on the 2nd of December 2020 and presented research findings on the Implications of Unpaid Care and Domestic work (UCDW) on women in the era of COVID19. The meeting provided legislators with an opportunity to discuss possible strategies for the implementation of laws and policies that acknowledge the value of UCDW so that women can be free to reach their full potential. The organisation shared a report on how UCDW continues to inhibit women from effectively participating in leadership and decision making processes. The MPs promised to take the issue up and make sure the burden of UCDW is reduced on women and girls through putting in place laws and policies that recognise, reduce and redistribute UCDW.
10. Parliamentary engagements on: Violence against women in the Era of COVID19 in Zimbabwe.
The organisation with support from OXFAM engaged the Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Representatives of the Thematic Committee on Human Rights and the Women’s Caucus on 04 December 2020. The discussion was centred on the impact of GBV on women and girls in the Era of COVID19 findings from a research conducted by WALPE in 6 provinces.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and continues to expose women and girls to all forms of gender based violence such as sexual violence, physical violence, emotional violence and socio-economic violence. These are manifesting in the form of forced marriages, rape, forced abortion, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and marital rape as well as denial of resource opportunities and services.
Politically, this has resulted in fewer women actively participating in leadership and decision making processes as abused women usually shy away from the public. They suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence which affects their ability to participate in public spaces. Parliamentarians appreciated the findings as it helped them appreciate how GBV in the era of COVID19 is affecting women and girls in communities. The MPs resolved to push for policy recommendations that will eradicate all forms of violence against women during and post COVID19 period.
11. Virtual meeting: 2020 from the lenses of women human rights defenders and political activists.
The organisation with support from the Netherlands Embassy held an online commemoration with 60 women human rights defenders and political activists drawn from all the provinces in the country. Part of the discussions included an analysis of the challenges women leaders faced in 2020 and how it affected their full participation in leadership and decision making processes. Some of the challenges raised included GBV, the COVID19 pandemic, lack of access to economic opportunities as a result of the lockdown, suspension of by elections, lack of electoral reforms, limited access to sexual and reproductive services and police brutality. The women leaders vowed to continue pushing for electoral reforms in a niche to create a conducive environment for their participation in democratic processes.