Zimbabwe – 51st Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

On February 21, 2012 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the combined second, third, fourth and fifth periodic reports of Zimbabwe relating to how that country is implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Introducing the report, Ms. Olivia Muchena, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, said that Zimbabwe had embarked on a Constitution making process in 2009, which would enhance the full citizenship and equality of women. In April 2009, a women’s conference was held on the new constitution, which is currently still in review. Zimbabwe is likely to face challenges in redrafting the current policies and legislation, however, these are some of the advancements they have made so far.
A legal literacy program, explaining relevant information in simplified form, has been created to enhance women’s access to justice and the government aims to translate these pamphlets into local languages. Zimbabwe’s government is also working on a economic management policy program to implement gender sensitive economic strategies. To aid survivors of gender based violence, Zimbabwe has created the one stop center model, where all services are housed under one roof, ensuring a link between local communities and more established provincial based services to bring survivors greater access to health care, psychological support, and legal aid. In 2010, Zimbabwe launched a campaign against gender based violence promoting four key strategies: prevention, protection, participation, and programs. Reproductive health services are also being promoted to decrease rate of maternal mortality. In addition, partnerships with the private sector have been envisioned to ensure that women actively participate in different economic sectors such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.
However, there are major obstacles to future progress, included limited budgets and a lack of coordination. During the discussion, experts raised questions concerning girls’ enrollment in secondary education, girls’ high school drop-out rates, measures to address sexual violence in schools, abolishment of the traditional practice of lobola, human trafficking, early pregnancies, maternal mortality rates, land reform and women’s access to land ownership, child labor, and training of judges and police officers. In her concluding remarks, Ms. Olivia Muchena expressed that gender equality is the subject of very active debate in Zimbabwe and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to addressing the issues raised and further advancing the promotion and protection of women’s rights in the country.