ZIMBABWE’s new Constitution has brought positive changes to the plight of rural women on issues relating to property ownership, such as land and cattle, a lobby group has said.
By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA
A group of 40 women, who are part of Habakkuk Trust’s women’s desk co-ordinators in several wards in the Matabeleland region, this week revealed that even though they are still in some way answerable to men, there are notable changes in the way they are treated.
“I am a living example. I have been refused land to build a home. I have been told to bring at least my eldest son so that the chief can give me land. It has been 23 years now,” a woman told a workshop in Bulawayo.
In another testimony, a woman from Zimnyama in Plumtree said she had managed to access land on her own.
“Things have changed such that even the councillor is a woman. I have a home that I own under my name. I registered for the portion of land under my name and I was not asked to bring male representatives or witnesses,” she said.
A participant from Gwanda spoke of the challenges that widowed and divorced women experienced in accessing land in her ward.
“Where I come from, the powers that be are clear that a single woman, widowed or divorced, can never own home (land),” the gathering heard.
Participants also revealed the challenges they face while trying to dispose of their cattle because registration cards bear their husbands’ names.
“We have burning issues around cattle. When it comes to inheritance, girls never get anything just because they are women. The argument is that they will get married to some other families and cannot take the inheritance of their fathers to their marriages.
“It is only the married women, with marriage certificates, who manage to sell cattle. Some children fail to go to school because we cannot sell cattle to raise school fees,” said another.
The new Constitution makes it clear that every child has rights to inheritance without regard to their gender, while public institutions including Parliament are supposed to have equal representation across the spectrum.