Zimbabwe records strides in upholding women and girls’ rights

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Zimbabwe has made commendable progress in upholding the human rights of women and girls as equal citizens, a senior United Nations official has said.

These were part of the remarks by UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Zimbabwe, His Excellency Edward Kallon, at the  UN Women International Women’s Day Reception in Harare on Wednesday 20 March 2024.

Two weeks ago, HE Kallom joined Honorable Monica Mutsvanga, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development to mark International Women’s Day in Shurugwi. Yesterday’s event was a continuation of commemorating Women’s History Month in Zimbabwe and across the world.

“Celebrating women is not the only objective of this month. It is equally important to acknowledge the gaps that remain between men and women, and between boys and girls, in many areas of our society and to advocate for the elimination of these gaps.

“Along with many other countries, Zimbabwe has made commendable progress in upholding the human rights of women and girls as equal citizens. As a signatory to international treaties and conventions, Zimbabwe’s commitment to advancing the women’s agenda has been strong. Yet this year’s theme – invest in women, accelerate progress – reminds us that achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment also requires money on the table,” HE Kallon said.

He noted that despite national, regional, and global commitments, the uneven progress on goal 5 and other gender-related targets shows that the world still has a long way to go in fulfilling its commitment to women and girls.

The UN Secretary-General in a recent opinion piece wrote: “At our current speed, full legal equality for women is some 300 years away; so is the end of child marriage. This rate of change is frankly insulting. Half of humanity can’t wait centuries for their rights. We need equality now. That means accelerating the pace of progress. And that relies on political ambition and investment –.”

One of the significant challenges in achieving gender equality by 2030 is the substantial annual deficit of 360 billion USD in spending on gender equality interventions.

In Zimbabwe, UN initiatives continue to focus on advancing SDG 5 under the Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2022-2026).

An analysis of Zimbabwe’s SDG Index in 2023 shows moderate improvements in SDG 5. Areas such as legal frameworks, violence against women, employment, and economic benefits have contributed to these achievements, but further efforts are needed.

Various joint programmes, including the Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative funded by European Union, have engaged multiple stakeholders to prioritize areas for progress in gender equality, such as enhancing access to education and strengthening policies for social protection.

HE Kallon reiterated the UN’s commitment to supporting the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small, Medium, and Enterprises Development in implementing the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment National Priorities (2024-2030).

The UN support ranges from advocating for new laws and supporting impactful women’s economic empowerment initiatives to implementing strategies for women in leadership roles and promoting a green and inclusive economy.