BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
PARLIAMENT should come up with laws that promote gender equality and encourage women’s rights while also creating equal opportunities at workplaces and political offices, the Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) has said.
Speaking yesterday following the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Parliament of Zimbabwe and rights groups, WLSA Zimbabwe national director Fadzai Traquino said the legal and policy frameworks were in most cases bad for women emancipation and gender equality, hence the need to partner lawmakers in advocating for better laws.
“The courts are there to protect the rights of women, but at times, the legal and policy frameworks may be so bad that there is no remedy in the courts,” Traquino said.
“Therefore, our partnership with parliaments across Sadc at different levels has really been a smart partnership to try to work together towards advancing the law.” She added: “For instance, our current marriage laws still need to be reformed to make it illegal for any persons below 18 years to enter into a marriage. The laws also need to further provide equal protection to women in unregistered customary marriages who are not equally protected by the law in the event of property sharing upon separation.”
“Our legal framework is also weak in guaranteeing gender parity (50/50) in positions of decision-making and political office as espoused in the Constitution. Across the region, WLSA is working with the Sadc Parliamentary Forum to look into strengthening the legal framework to achieve gender parity in decision making in line with the Sadc gender policy and the Sadc Gender and Development Protocol which set the target at 50/50.”
Other organisations including ActionAid Zimbabwe and Silveira House Jesuit Social Justice and Development Centre also signed different MoUs with Parliament that seek to enhance social justice, promote gender equality and poverty eradication.
“We can only succeed in this endeavour if we believe in collective efforts. When people come together, they can even mend a hole in the sky,” Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda said. This comes as WLSA celebrates 30 years of advancing and promoting women’s rights and gender equality using the law as a tool for engagement.
WLSA operates in seven countries in the Sadc region, supporting and strengthening advocacy at local, national and regional levels.