Zimbabwe marks World Zero Discrimination Day Ms Lindile Ndebele

Lumbidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporter

GENDER activists in the country have called for the full implementation of  policies and laws enacted by Government aimed at empowering women and the girl child. 

The appeal comes as Zimbabwe is set to join the rest of the world today in commemorating World Zero Discrimination Day meant to curb any form of discrimination including the discrimination against women.

The day is commemorated on March 1 every year.

Women face discrimination in many aspects denying them their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Zero Discrimination Day this year runs under the theme “Remove laws that harm, create laws that empower.”

Women and girls have since last year been given a chance by the Government to use the Freedom of Information Act to demand information that educates them on their empowerment such as sexual health, reproductive rights and political participation among others.

The National Gender Policy (NGP) has recorded successes including the passing of a series of legislation to operationalise the policy, institutional and structural reforms that saw the national gender machinery being streamlined and strengthened through the creation of a separate ministry responsible for Gender and Women Affairs.

A gender activist, Ms Lindile Ndebele said Zimbabwe is very good when it comes to law and policy making, but the implementation is not followed through. Therefore, as the theme for the day suggests, the country just needs to implement laws that empower, since they have already been created.

She commended Zimbabwe when it comes to law making as the existing laws are inclusive for women even though some forms of discrimination are seen here and there due to environmental factors.

“We are happy that as a country we have realised that it does not work to discriminate. We acknowledge that people are aware of non-discrimination, even if discrimination is still there. 

“Sometimes women are not discriminated in a way that someone says I’m discriminating you, you are not allowed to do this and that, but it’s the environment that actually discriminates against one. 

“For instance, what is currently happening, if people are going to be killing and injuring each other during campaigns, already from my vulnerable stand as a woman I’m already discriminated against,” she said.

“Despite relationships and all, discrimination looked at an environmental perspective, the environment actually shapes discrimination. 

“At times the discrimination may look like someone did it while the actual fact is that the influence came from the environment. There are political, social environments which involve things such as the culture, and economic environment.”

Ms Sukoluhle Mhlanga, a gender and disability activist advocated for the inclusion of women with disabilities in decision making and society as a whole.

She noted that whereas some women are no longer facing discrimination to a greater extent those with disabilities still do.

“Women with disabilities face discrimination more than any other women in society. They are even discriminated by women themselves who exclude them from many things,” she said.

Ms Mhlanga said women with disabilities are judged based on their disabilities as people don’t take their time to consider the abilities they possess.

“Women with disabilities are the people that are very much prone to discrimination. We face discrimination based on the disabilities that we have. 

“People around us tend to focus on our disabilities and not our capabilities, so as we celebrate this day, we are calling upon zero discrimination, may everyone consider us as normal because as much as we have these disabilities, we are able,” she said.

 “If society embraces women with disabilities, they then can actively take part in everything happening. 

‘We just want a conducive environment to enable women to participate in decision making processes and even in politics because I believe that participation is the leeway to enjoy our rights. In the society that we live in we are always pinpointed; we are even discriminated against by some women they don’t include us in their meetings and all.” 

 Ms Mhlanga said women with disabilities in rural areas are more affected as they are not actively participating in their communities due to the discrimination they face.

The country has in the previous years, come up with laws that promote inclusiveness, and the 2013 Constitution provides more guarantees and protections for women than any other before it as it recognises the equality of all persons and goes further to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sex or gender.

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