With the support from UN Women, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) has engaged different women’s rights organisations in setting up a Conflict Early Warning and Early Response (CEWER) system indicators aimed at resolving the underlying and deep-seated causes and drivers of conflicts.
Speaking at a CEWER consultative meeting in Harare on the 15th of December 2020, the NPRC Deputy Chairperson, Lilian Chigwedere said there was need to work tirelessly in coordinating interventions that prevent creation of conflictual situations in different communities.
“Women need to access early warning and response to alleviate the pressures or risk factors that trigger violent conflict. There is also a need to ensure institutionalisation of ideas of preventing violence at local, national, and international levels.
“Our aim as NPRC is to build a peaceful and a harmonised Zimbabwe with women being included and represented in all spheres of life. By end of January, the target is to make sure that all the indicators are in place,” she said.
The UN Women Deputy Country Representative, Pamela Mhlanga said women need to be involved in every step of the way and the process needs to be engendered to ensure that women have access to information and at the same time able to relay that information.
She highlighted the positive strides that were made where women participated in the open debates in October at the United Nations Security Council at the African Union.
“Others have been trained in mediation and women’s mediation networks have been established. Many women now participate in the security sector institutions and many peacekeepers have been trained,” Mhlanga said.
Despite the progress, she also revealed that there was still an overall lack of budgetary support and the National Action Plan has been a limitation as well as the absence of robust monitoring of programmes and projects.
A representative from Women Coalition of Zimbabwe(WCoZ) pointed out that although women constitute 52, 1 percent of the national population, they continue to be underrepresented in national and local governance structures and are not adequately protected from political and gender-based violence.
WCoZ also highlighted that statics indicate low representation of women in institutions responsible for ensuring peace and security in Zimbabwe.
This low representation can be attributed to the existence of a persistent culture of violence and politics and impunity for perpetrators of violence which is prominent during the election period threatening the security of women as well as silencing the female voices.
A study conducted by WCoZ on Covid-19 and GBV show that there has been a 38, 5 percent increase in GBV reported to Non-Governmental Organisations who provide services to survivors of GBV. Over 5 300 cases have been reported between March and 7 October 2020.
Other participants emphasised that women who reside in the rural areas were experiencing violence because they lack empowerment and knowledge on their rights, thus, there was a need to include them in critical debates and forums.
Early warning is a process that alerts decision-makers to the potential outbreak of conflict, escalation, and resurgence of violent conflicts and promotes an understanding among decision-makers of nature and impact to violent conflict.
For early response, it is an initiative that occurs as soon as the threat of potential violent conflict is identified and that aims to provide solutions to problems.