Transitional justice is about gender justice

woman_crying2Zimbabwe under the GNU is supposed to be emerging from a decade of human rights abuse and violence to a future of justice, democracy and peace. (Pictured: Women suffered the lions share of violence during the past 10 years)

During this period of transitional justice, the hope of millions is that the violent and abusive past will cease, never to be repeated, and Zimbabweans will reconcile and rebuild their battered country.

Marginalised groups, particularly women, suffered the lions share of violence during the abusive period. Thousands were raped, tortured and displaced. Some of their stories are so disturbing that one is left wondering what it will take to gain their confidence in the legitimacy of what is now happening in Zimbabwe. Womens voices were muffled as they did not have significant representation in the top echelons of politics, and they suffered without, in most cases, much support from the people they campaigned for.

Emilia Muchawa, director of Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association said the womens movement was busy lobbying various stakeholders for th unconditional equality of women in both the public and private sectors. We are knocking on all doors and some are opening. We are trying to strategically position ourselves for full involvement in the processes of transition, said Muchawa.

Tafadzwa Muropa, a gender activist and political economist, called upon all facets of the womens movement to work together. She said it was a welcome move that women in parliament were working together to further the gender agenda, despite coming from different political parties. Women in parliament make a concerted force on discussions that involves the plight of women.

Women should be involved at the levels where they decide how money is spent within their entities and they should have an active role in formulation and implementation of economic policies. This gives them the leverage to push the gender agenda, said Muropa.

Sarah Mutiti, a teacher working in Masvingo, said the countrys national healing process should ensure that womens voices are heard. A gender-sensitive truth and reconciliation commission should be set up where women will be able to report the abuses they faced, she said.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to numerous international and regional agreements on women. These include:

– the SADC protocol on Gender and Development which outlines a number of protocols, conventions and policies that spell out commitments made in all regional, global and continental instruments for achieving gender equality;

– the millennium development goal number three, which seeks to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015;

– the convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which acknowledges that women worldwide face extensive discrimination and it is the only internationally binding treaty on preventing discrimination against women.

In addition, it is one of few African countries with its own gender policy and a ministry of womens development. However, these positive efforts could come to naught if they are not supported financially by the government. The political will shown in policy design should also be displayed at implementation level.

Post published in: Politics

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