The middle class has been a growing class within Africa over the past 10 years with growthranging from 4.4% to 6.2% owing to their growing economies. After a period of substantialdecline from the 1990s, there were signs of this being the process too in Zimbabwe following the period after the signing of the Global Political Agreement between the warring parties, Zanu PF and the MDC when the US dollar became the official trading currency. Since 2013, this trend seems to be in reverse with the dramatic decline in the economy and the closing of many companies and businesses, and the massive informalisation of the economy.

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Zimbabwean politics: Very Constrained and Confined. The lack of middle-class young women’s voices in political discourse*

Women‟s participation in the political arena has always been fraught with tension and even the right to vote was a hard-fought battle across the world. That struggle took over a hundred years with New Zealand being the first self-governing country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1893. However, it still did not allow them to stand for parliamentary elections. A year later, the colony of South Australia gave women, both, the right to vote and the right to stand for election. In contrast, women in Saudi Arabia were only accorded the right very recently – in 2011 and women eventually got the opportunity to vote in their elections this year (2016).

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Policy Brief No.3/2021 Youth and their Agency: How to foster this

There is continuous discussion about the need to engage the youth in the national narrative and address the needs of this increasingly large demographic. Most discussion focuses on livelihoods, and too little on the young as citizens, a not trivial issue in this patriarchal and age-dominated society. The present policy brief, based on several year’s work by RAU, examines agency in the youth and some of the impediments to this.

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Prison personnel: At risk group for COVID-19

Close to 11 million prisoners worldwide, as well as the officers who are charged with ensuring their safe, secure and humane custody, must not be forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries should recognize the particular risks which COVID-19 poses to confined populations for which physical distancing is not a possibility. This is all the more the case in light of the weaker health profile of prison populations. COVID-19 prevention and control mechanisms in prisons that are evidence-based are needed urgently, and should be implemented in full compliance with United Nations Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners in order to protect people in and outside of prison. In doing so, the State must also ensure that more attention is paid to marginalized groups in prisons who are particularly at risk of infection, in particular when they live close together, with a high potential for transmission. Places of deprivation of liberty undoubtedly constitute high-risk environments for those who live and work there.

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Zimbabwean Lives and Zimbabwean’s Mental Health matter.

When the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) posted an opinion piece to celebrate World Mental Health Day on 10 October, we made the following comment:
When the theme for 2020 is increased investment on psycho-social support amid the pandemic, we should not only focus on the short-term, but on the long-term as well, and we see that one simple investment is entirely in the hands of everyone and the government: stopping the violence. Stop the violence and stop creating new victims, and create a system in which all the victims and survivors that are the legacy of decades of OVT can be healed!
This comment is given greater depth with the publication of a new report by RAU and the Counselling Services Unit (CSU). This report compares the effects of Organised Violence and Torture (OVT) for two different groups of survivors: those from the Liberation War and those from the early millennium.

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Access to education in the midst of global pandemics: Policy Lessons

The Zimbabwean school system has been negatively impacted since the outbreak of COVID-19 which was subsequently declared a global pandemic by the WHO. In March 2020, governments across the world took a decision to shut down national borders, movement of people and closure of workplaces to try to curb the spread of the virus. The government of Zimbabwe has also responded with blanket national lock-downs to curb the spread of the virus. The latest upward surge in the COVID-19 cases which recorded 1365 new infections and 34 deaths in 24 hours demonstrates the fact that the nation is paying the price for the laxity that came from festive season celebrations, including the opening of border especially the Beitbridge Border. This resulted in the announcement of a national 30-day level 4 lockdown meaning that schools continue to be heavily affected.

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THE GENDER LENS Volume 1, Number 1 Proportional Representation for Women: the Way to Equality

It is evident that gender-friendly policies are most likely to emerge from governments in which women have a strong say in developing policies. For many generations in the modern era, women were deprived of the right to vote, and the tendency to reverse this only began in the late nineteenth century, but it was very slow: between 1893 and 1944, less than 1% of countries in the world had female suffrage. The change post Second World War was startling, and, by 1966, 83% of the world’s countries had female suffrage. However, quantity is not necessarily quality, and, while 83% allowed women the vote, only 51% had women parliamentarians. By 1990, all countries had women parliamentarians, by only 38% had achieved a level of 10% of women in parliament: women had a foot in the door, but hardly were getting into the main room.It is obvious that there are many factors that inhibit women’s representation; structural, economic, social and cultural. Most of these factors can be addressed by women-friendly policies, but this obviously takes time, and is wholly dependent on how important such policies are to men and countries. Thus, the issue of electoral systems takes on great importance, and creates the possibility of short-cutting the “trickle-down” approach to gender equality.This is the focus of this first volume of the Gender Lens. As part of the SIDA’s programme for Strengthening Women’s Advocacy for Inclusive Governance (SWAG), this volume addresses the problem of representation for women in the governance of Zimbabwe. It follows on the efforts made by the women’s movement to increase female representation in the 2018 Harmonised Election. As will be remembered, this election saw women voting in very large numbers, but with few women directly elected, and a paltry vote for female candidates. Zimbabwe does have more than 30% of its parliamentarians as women, but this is the consequence of the quota system introduced in 2013.

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When Women have Political Power they can end GBV.

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a scourge across the whole planet, and in many countries appears to have been increasing during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the problem was enormous and serious well before the pandemic. According to UN Women, in the year prior to the pandemic, 243 million woman and girls (15 to 49) had experienced intimate partner violence.

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