Women barred from celebrating

Women from Mashonaland Central were last Tuesday barred from celebrating the International Women’s Day by the District Administrator’s office.

Glanis Changachirere - shocked at cancellation.
Glanis Changachirere – shocked at cancellation.

Hundreds of women had gathered for the celebrations organised by the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) at Tsungubvi Hall, Glendale, before they were ordered to disperse.

“I am yet to come to terms with the cancellation of such an important occasion,” said Founding Director of IYWD, Glanis Changachirere, after an hour-long meeting with officials at the DA’s offices.

She told The Zimbabwean at the venue that she had cleared the event with the police and liaised with both the local ministry of women’s affairs and the local authority.

Zanu (PF) officials described the cancellation as an assault on women’s freedom of association and expression. “As women we would have taken this opportunity to share experiences, challenges and empowerment ideas,” said a top district party official on condition of anonymity.

She said women from areas surrounding Glendale in the province were beneficiaries of IYWD initiated income generating projects. “As a result of the generosity of IYWD I run successful poultry and tuck shop projects in Bindura, and women in Glendale should also be equally empowered,” said Gladys Nyamowa.

Political intolerance in Glendale continues to make it difficult for NGOs such as IYWD to launch empowerment projects for the marginalised. IYWD was founded in 2009 with the objective of providing a platform for young women to come together and organise how to live sustainable lives.

Disappointed women mill about the IWD celebrations venue
Disappointed women mill about the IWD celebrations venue

Efforts to seek comment from the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah Muchinguri and the Permanent Secretary, Perpetua Gumbo, were fruitless as their numbers were not reachable.

Sources at the ministry said Muchinguri would officially launch this year’s Women’s Day celebrations at the Harare International Conference Centre on March 26, followed by Provincial, District and Ward level commemorations.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson, Thabani Nyoni, described the cancelation of the Glendale event as a violation of affected women’s democratic right and freedom of association and said reasons given by the DA’s office for the cancellation were administrative not legal.

“There was no good reason what so ever to stop the women from celebrating on the basis of protocol,” Nyoni said, adding that government’s track record of failure to comply with the new constitution was worrisome.

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