International Women’s Day: Chief Mangwende hailed for setting up gender by-laws

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By Elvis Dumba in Murehwa

Chief Mangwende, born Morgan Gatsi, has been described as a gender equality champion after he set up by-laws in his jurisdiction that are intended in eradicating gender-based violence and inequality in the community.

Chief Mangwende said he led the initiative after the rise in gender-based violence, child marriages, and divorce cases in the community.

“We had a great problem in our community when women were being victimized and several children being married at a tender age, and I realized that we had to come up with a way that would help end the scourge,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of International Women’s Day Commemoration that was held in Murehwa.

Chief Mangwende said he challenged kraal heads in Murehwa to ensure that there were no cases of child marriages and ensure that cases of gender violence are responded to. Chief Mangwende created laws that will see kraal heads that fail to prevent child marriages under their jurisdiction being fined.

Chief Mangwende said the initiative has largely assisted in the decrease of gender-based violence and child marriages with Mashonaland West being one of the provinces with a high number of gender-based violence challenges.

Various initiatives were introduced in Mashonaland East to support interventions to fight gender equality challenges with support from the European Union and various partners.

Team Europe led the commemorations of the event where various service providers in gender equality promotion activities came together and shared notes on gender equality challenges.

Members of Team Europe, joined by Switzerland, commemorated the 115th anniversary of International Women’s Day with an event in Mazianike, Murehwa, aimed at reaching out to women and girls.

H.E Jobst von Kirchmann, Ambassador European Union, said they decided to commemorate the event in Murehwa as the community embodies European Union shared values.

“As Team Europe, we felt it was important to celebrate Women’s Day with women in the community. Women in Murehwa embody our shared values of gender equality and women’s empowerment, and our Team Europe Initiative will support them, as well as many other communities across Zimbabwe,” he said

During the event, the Minister of Women’s Affairs Sithembiso Nyoni, in a speech, read on her behalf by Chief Director Mrs. Lilian Matsika-Takaendisa said the government has plans to increase the usage of information and computer technology systems across the country under the Smart Zimbabwe 2030 Master Plan.

The European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe, HE Jobst von Kirchmann spoke on behalf of Team Europe and presented the Team Europe Initiative on Gender Equality and Women’s EmpowerTEI – GEWE). He acknowledged the remarkable strides made by Zimbabwe towards gender equality and explained how the Team Europe Initiative will help to build on progress made through the combined efforts of all of its members. The Ambassador also highlighted the important role of men in advancing gender equality.

“To come here to Murehwa was not a coincidence: Mashonaland East province had the highest number of male inmates convicted for gender-based violence, according to a 2021 report by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services. This province also had the third highest cases of child marriages in 2021, according to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission.

“But at the same time, Murehwa is also a place where there is a strong commitment of some of my fellow male counterparts to fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment. I would like to single out Chief Mangwende, who is a male champion for gender equality,” he said.

The European Union Ambassador said they have injected at least 209 Euros into gender equality programs.

“As Team Europe we have chosen “gender equality and women empowerment” as a key initiative where we invest more than 209 million euros (EU EUR 106 million, Sweden 61.3, Switzerland 17, Germany 17, Ireland 4.5, The Netherlands 2.5, France 1.4) because gender equality is a core value for the EU but as well as for Zimbabwe with a strong commitment to cut down on GBV and to empower women,” he said.

The international women’s Day commemoration ran under the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”

Various Ambassadors and heads of various European agencies attended the event that saw Team Europe’s Goodwill Ambassador Ammara Brown performing at the event.