Order of Merit for WOZA leader

In recognition of William’s relentless engagement in advocating for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, the French President decided, on recommendation of the French Embassy, to award the activist the National Order of Merit at a ceremony in Harare on Friday evening.

One of many peace marches undertaken by the brave WOZA activists on the streets of Zimbabwe.
One of many peace marches undertaken by the brave WOZA activists on the streets of Zimbabwe.

In her acceptance speech, Williams paid tribute to the other women of WOZA who have made sacrifices in the pursuit of peace.

“When I formed WOZA with late Sheba Dube I never imagined we would grow into the movement that WOZA is today and I could not have done it without the support and sacrifice of my family and my comrades, Magodonga Mahlangu and many others.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank them for their support and commitment. To be a member of WOZA is to be one amongst many fearlessly brave and determined women and men – I am proud that they count me as their sister and mother.”

Williams went on to say that it was not too late for the political leadership to return to the promises of the liberation war.

“Enough blood has been spilt in a violent war for these ideals. WOZA members fight tirelessly, but this time non-violently so that we can see, feel and enjoy those promises.”

She accepted the award in recognition of the thousands of community activists who championed for change in the country.

“This award will also help to lift the profile of these champions and protect them from abuse and torture and may even save their lives.” In conclusion, Williams drew attention to the 16 Days Campaign that began on Friday.

“Recently the Zimbabwe Republic Police reported that 124 women were raped in 11 days. In this harsh economic climate, there is no peace in our homes and women are the punching bag. It is said that sexual harassment is experienced by up to 70 % of

women and I am one of the 70%. Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria. This year the theme is ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women’. The time has come for a code RED against rape of women and girls.”

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