BY VANESSA GONYE
Global women’s rights movement, SheDecides, has honoured outspoken chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Ruth Labode (pictured), for her active role in advancing women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Labode said the recognition will see her act as a representative of the movement to empower women and girls to take charge of their bodies.
In announcing the news, SheDecides chairperson Tikhala Itaye said Labode was selected as a result of her determined campaign for the rights of all women and girls.
“SheDecides is thrilled to announce Dr Labode as a Champion who will be joining the current cohort of Champions who are committed to advancing the fundamental rights of girls and women everywhere. We are hugely excited about the prospect of working together to create a world where She Decides,” Itaye said.
According to SheDecides, Champions use their status and influence to change laws and policies, educate others and advocate for a new
Speaking of the milestone achievement, Labode pledged to use her position as an MP to fight for the emancipation of women.
“I am honoured to become part of such a bold and exciting movement like SheDecides. I was brought up in a female-headed household, where all decisions were made by my mother and her decisions made me believe in myself. I will use my platform as a parliamentarian and Champion to ensure that my experience becomes the new normal, where all women and girls can make their own choices, without question,” she said.
“As SheDecides, we can reduce teenage pregnancies, we can reduce illegal abortions and we can ensure that girls stay in school to prepare for a better future.”
Labode has an extensive career in advocating for women’s rights.
She was the first female provincial medical director in Zimbabwe, a position she held for five years. She is also a member of the Zimbabwe Key Population Forum.
Within Parliament, her work has included leading the network of parliamentary champions on sexual health and reproductive rights; working with civil society organisations to advocate for an end to violence against women; and working towards the decriminalisation of sex work in Zimbabwe.
Labode has remained a force to reckon with in advocating for the rights of girls, mainly fighting against the issue of child brides and under age marriages.
SheDecides now reaches 183 countries, with over 120 000 individuals and organisations signed up to its manifesto as friends and supporters.
The movement was launched in early 2017 in response to the Global Gag Rule, and has swiftly become a broad, inclusive global movement.
The Global Gag Rule, or Mexico City Policy, is a United States government policy that blocks US federal funding for non-governmental organisations that provide abortion counselling or referrals, advocate to decriminalise abortion, or expand abortion services.