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‘Women unaware of constitutional provisions’

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ZIMBABWEAN women continue to have their rights suppressed despite being the biggest beneficiaries of the new Constitution, a female parliamentarian has said.

Christopher Mahove

Harare West MP Jessie Majome (MDC-T) said although the new Constitution had several guarantees that protect women’s rights, few were aware of what was contained in the charter.

Majome was speaking at a workshop organised by Women’s Trust to discuss women’s experiences on the 2013 elections and map a strategy for women for the 2018 votes.

“Women are the biggest beneficiaries of the constitutional reform programme, but I don’t know why they are not celebrating. My fear is that they have not read and they don’t know what they are missing,” she said.

“Women are just carrying on with their lives and the reality on the ground is totally opposite from what is in the Constitution.

“They have all these guarantees, but nothing has changed.”

Majome said the new Constitution was the first in the world which had a women only section singled out by name. She was referring to Article 6 of the Preamble, which gave women equal citizenry and dignity.

“The equality clause was not there in the old Constitution, but is now enshrined and is papered throughout the document,” Majome said.

“The new Constitution also has an effective anti-discrimination clause, which is far different from the monster of a clause that gave a license for discrimination.

She said there was need for women parliamentarians to push for the passing of enabling legislation that would see the provisions of the new Constitution translated into reality for the multitudes of women.

“The longer we take to do it, the more our rights are in danger as women.
“We need to translate these into statutory law and also tell the women what treasure they have in this new Constitution,”

Majome said there was a danger that if the current crop of legislators failed to act to align laws with the provisions of the constitution, a whole new generation of women would be affected.

Another MP, Monica Mutsvangwa, said it was critical to note that the guarantees were not good enough being just on paper as they needed to be implemented.

“These also need to be enforced and we should take it upon ourselves as women to enforce them so that we claim our rights and freedoms,” she said.
She said women had earned the right to equality and freedom by fighting alongside their male counterparts during the war of liberation.

Under the new Constitution, women were supposed to occupy half of the top positions in public institutions, including boards of parastatals.

In the last elections, 60 women were elected to the National Assembly in accordance with the new Constitution through proportional representation.

However, there were only three women out of 26 Cabinet ministers, three out of 13 Ministers of State and five out of 24 deputy ministers.

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