THE European Union (EU) has set up a $20 million facility to fight all forms of gender-based abuse and violence.
EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe van Damme confirmed the development last week, saying this had been necessitated by the country’s deeply-entrenched patriarchal and sexist perception.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU/SILAS NKALA
The fund came at a time Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba has come under vicious verbal abuse from the opposition, which accused her of being biased in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party.
“Zimbabwe is a deeply patriarchal and sexist society. Gender-based violence #GBV (Gender-Based Violence) starts with abusive language and disrespect for persona integrity. @UNZimbabwe and @euinzim are putting up a 21MUSD #Spotlight initiative to fight against #GBV. Example has to come from political leadership!” Van Damme tweeted on Friday.
The abuse has been particularly sexist against Chigumba. MDC-T females contesting the elections have also come under sexist attacks from opponents in the opposition party.
The breakaway leader of the
MDC-T faction, Thokozani Khupe, has also not been spared the attacks from the opposition.
“Zimbabwe was selected as one of the eight sub Saharan African countries to be part of the #Spotlight initiative against #GBV for a reason.”
The EU-UN #Spotlight Initiative is multi-year multi-stakeholder trust campaign was unveiled in 2017, with the EU as its main contributor aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
According to the UN, violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.
The UN says GBV is a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s and girls’ human rights and to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As part of the Spotlight Initiative, the EU-UN has also launched #HerStoryOurStory campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the prevalence and impact of violence against women and girls.
This came as the Zimbabwe Gender Commission also frowned over the low women representation in next Tuesday’s harmonised elections.
The concerns come amid revelations that some of the contesting parties do not even have a single female candidate.
In a statement yesterday, ZGC said it has observed with serious reservations the low representation of women among nominated candidates ahead of July 30 harmonised elections.
“Zimbabwe Electoral Commission statistics of nominated candidates reveal that women make up only 17% of council candidates, 15% for national assembly and only four out of 23 presidential aspirants are women,” ZGC said.
“Other statistics show that of the 47 political parties which fielded candidates, 20 had no woman. Of the 40 political parties contesting council elections, 12 did not field any woman. Despite the 60 seats reserved for women in the house of assembly and proportional representation for senate, ZGC notes with concern that this will not effectively make up for the drastic reduction of women’s representation already certain in the direct election.”
ZGC said this would, in turn, negatively affect the incremental value of women representation in the legislature, resulting in a decline of the current gains.
“It is the understanding of the ZGC that there should only be an upward trend in women representation until there is parity. Any other movement is ultra vires the Constitution, which confers equal rights on all citizens and from which public and private institutions, including the political parties draw their mandate,” ZGC said.
“ZGC, therefore, reminds various stakeholders to the elections process, structures and outcomes of the following constitutional requirements: Section 3 on adequate representation of the electorate, and recognition of the rights of women, among other social groups, Section 17 on gender balance, section 56 on gender equality and section 80 which guarantees equal access to opportunities in politic, among other sectors.”
ZGC said in line with their constitutional mandate to monitor issues concerning gender equality and to advise public and private institutions on steps to be taken to ensure gender equality and to secure appropriate redress, where rights relating to gender have been violated, they remind all stakeholders of the need to unreservedly observe the gender equality provisions of the Constitution.