Money, jobs and male rôle models – the recipe for an end to GBV

Women’s organisations in Zimbabwe are calling for government money to step up efforts against gender-based violence. SOFIA MAPARUNGA reports from a gender and development meeting in Harare.

“Young men are getting married early and they later fail to provide for their families.” – Tangai Jonasi.
“Young men are getting married early and they later fail to provide for their families.” – Tangai Jonasi.

The ministry of women affairs, gender and community development should come up with a fully costed budget to present to government to mobilise funding for gender-based violence interventions in 2014. That’s the view of representatives from women’s organisations meeting at the Women’s Resource Centre in Harare this week.

People involved activities to combat GBV in Zimbabwe said that lack of funding for gender based violence intervention was thwarting progress towards a violence free society. They said that setting up a fund to finance GBV strategies could ensure sustainable GBV strategies and action.

The deputy director of policy in the ministry, Stephen Nyaruwata, said the women’s ministry received a paltry allocation of funding from the finance ministry, which made it very difficult for them to fully implement targeted projects.

Nyaruwata said women’s issues were relegated to the periphery and the women’s ministry received little funding from government.

He said: “The challenge is that government prioritises other initiatives such as infrastructural development, arguing that it is a critical challenge that should be addressed first to ensure that women have access to services.

“The ministry is relying on development partners to bankroll and implement most of its interventions in championing gender-based violence,” he said.

Nyaruwata added that, in 2010, the women’s affairs ministry received just 0.02 per cent of the total budget, an amount that was not enough even to sustain the administrative duties of the ministry. “In 2011, the percentage allocation to the ministry was 0.03 and the figure slightly rose to 0.05 per cent in 2012,” said Nyaruwata.

Musasa Project programmes officer Vimbainashe Njovana said failure to finance GBV intervention ended up costing the country millions of dollars.

“GBV affects productivity and the country loses millions as victims seek medical attention and justice. In 2009, the country lost over $2bn because of GBV related direct and indirect costs,” said Njovana.

Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence from November 25 to December 10.

For the event, activists and women’s lobby groups, such as Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Musasa Project, Padare Enkundleni Men’s Forum and the women’s ministry, held activities countrywide to raise awareness and advocate for stiffer penalties for perpetrators of GBV.

People who spoke to The Zimbabwean said that, if there was to be a reduction in GBV in Zimbabwe, there was need for government and others to raise awareness of the benefits of positive masculinity and challenge the harmful cultural practices that fuel GBV.

Tendai Chinyama from Mufakose in Harare said he could see the benefits that positive masculinity brought to families and communities.

“Unlike other fathers whose children seek shelter under the bed each time their fathers come home from work and are in the house, my wife and children are their happiest when I am at home,” he said.

A father of two boys, Chinyama urged men to take a leading role in championing efforts against gender-based violence.

“Men and boys should show society that they are dignified, responsible, noble, capable, hard working and respectable,” he said.

“Among ourselves, as men, we should begin challenging harmful practices that fuel GBV. It can be eradicated, but through an all-inclusive approach. Once a boy grows up in a model environment where there is peace and mutual respect between the parents, the benefits of such will cascade to his own family.”

Chinyama said it was time to stop pointing fingers at each other and start working towards engaging each other on how best men could be involved in maintaining the family structure and reducing GBV.

He emphasised the importance of supporting men to ensure that they had the capacity to handle the hardships of the country’s economic challenges.

“The space where men can access help is limited. There are a lot of women’s organisations that assist women in dealing with GBV, yet very few target men,” he said, suggesting setting up more centres to educate and support men. According to a 2013 report by the ministry of women affairs, gender and community development in partnership with Gender Links, 68 per cent of Zimbabwean women have suffered from GBV perpetrated by men. The report stated that in Harare alone, more than 650 women and girls has been raped in the last 10 months.

In interviews with The Zimbabwean, citizens said economic emancipation of women was the solution to gender-based violence. Many attributed the rise in cases of GBV to poverty and high unemployment levels.

Joice Notice from Mufakose, Harare said an empowered woman would be in a position to provide for the family and indirectly contribute towards a reduction in GBV.

“Emotional abuse of the wife and children is done mostly through denying food to them. This triggers women to provoke their partners and then violence erupts,” she said. “When couples quarrel, women who do not have any form of income suffer along with the children, hence the need to capacitate them so that they are able to sustain their livelihood.”

Tangai Jonasi also blamed rising unemployment for domestic violence. “Young men are getting married early and they later fail to provide for their families,” said Jonasi.

Jonasi said that, for there to be a reduction in GBV cases in 2014, government needed to invest in employment creation as a matter of urgency.

Munyaradzi Gwazvo concurred with Jonasi and said women bore the brunt of poverty, and this promoted the culture of silence against speaking out against GBV.

“Rarely does a child go to their father when they are hungry. As a mother, it is difficult to report GBV cases to the police because the problems of taking care of the family will still come back to you if the husband, who is the bread- winner, is arrested,” she said.

“Male engagement is important if Zimbabwe is to build a brand of good men composed of community and family leaders who will be the role models for young boys. Young men should be inspired about the importance of positive masculinity, considering that the world is blinded by statistics on the failures of men in relation to GBV in Zimbabwe,” she said.

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