The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) stands with the women of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world to commemorate International Women’s Day. This is a day to celebrate the achievements of women socially, economically, politically and culturally, whether in a personal or professional capacity, whether officially recognised or not.
It is now incontrovertible that Africa has a demographically young population. The demographic youth bulge is now a centre of focus in development theory and the practice quest for forward-looking governance planning.
For Zimbabwe, the youth bulge is an opportunity that must not be let to slip away. It is a concern for the Zimbabwean youth that youth concerns appear to be at the end of the long line of other national priorities.
Why is it important to tap into the demographic youth bulge?
One of the greatest horrors about torture is exactly what President Trump claims, that it works, but not for the reasons that he thinks. It is deeply chilling that the man in charge of the greatest military machine on the planet can make such a frightening claim.
At a recent meeting in Bulawayo, convened by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and Women Politicians’ Incubator Zimbabwe (WOPIZ), there was consensus amongst all the women present – MPs, Councillors, heads of CSOs and NGOs – that the best way forward to ensure that women’s rights were respected was to ensure that half (105) of the seats in the National Assembly were occupied by women. The suggestion came out of the understanding that proportional representation as it currently is does not come close to fulfilling the objectives laid out in Section 17 of the Constitution:
A story is told in Greek mythology of a young woman named Antigone. After her brothers’ struggle for power they are both killed in battle. King Creon makes a decree that one of them, Polynices, should not be mourned or buried whilst the other would get a state funeral. The failure to be buried had implications for Polynices as it meant he could not proceed to the underworld, angering the gods.
Saturday, the 21st January was a historic day for women: this was the day American women chose to march across the United States to show their anger and frustration over their new President Donald Trump. This was the day after his inauguration.
In the African context lobola serves as a sign and token of appreciation from the man to his wife’s family. It’s a form of a thank you to in-laws for raising and grooming his wife whom in future shall bear children in his name. That’s basically the idea of lobola. The gesture is a way of cementing relations amongst families and nothing transactional should be attached to that.
As we commemorate 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence the theme this year is “Orange the World: Raise money to end violence against women and girls.” This is a befitting theme to highlight the state of the funding situation for women’s issues in Zimbabwe by the Treasury. Women make up the majority of the total population at 52% yet they are treated like second class citizens and less than 1% of the country’s total budget is dedicated to their issues. They face many many problems, gender based violence being one of them and one of the biggest.
Many years ago as a student in England, I was shocked by the findings of a large national survey on high school education. In brief, the finding that shocked me was that girls did much better in school when they were in single-sex schools than in co-educational schools. The reason was very simple, the assertiveness of boys meant that girls got second crack at everything: boys habitually got to use equipment first, etc. But also boys did much better in co-educational schools than they did in single-sex schools!
Speaking about gender based violence should not be limited to the 16 Days of activism but should be done every day. Today I will speak as if I was talking to my own sister and in doing so sometimes can get blunt.
You should never make an excuse for a man who is abusive, be it your boyfriend, workmate or husband for that matter. I know many of you are suffering and trying to protect your dignity in the institution of marriage. Many of you have this famous line, ndogarira vana vangu, but let me also tell you that you may die or get physically damaged.