ZEWU President’s speech at the International Women’s Day 2016 commemorations in Harare

WOMEN LEADERSHIP,

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,

LADIES & GENTLEMEN,

COMRADES AND FRIENDS

It is with great honour and humility that I stand before you as we commemorate this very important day, International Women’s Day under the theme ‘’Step It Up For Gender Equality.’’

This year’s theme “ Step it up for gender equality” comes at the right time when women are still battling under the male dominated environment though there are efforts for elimination of gender discrimination at the workplace, schools, politics, business environment, unions and the community as a whole.

Gender equality, also known as sex equality, gender egalitarianism, sexual equality or equality of the genders, is the view that both men and women should receive equal treatment and not be discriminated against based on their gender.

There is no doubt that women are generally perceived as more “communal” and “loyal“, whereas men are viewed more as ‘providers’protectors” and generally more “competent” in all aspects of life than women.Overcoming stereotypes and socially constructed unconscious bias can only be achieved if we are all willing to address our own immediate judgments and can put in place practices and procedures to mitigate their potential effects.

In recent years, we have seen more girls attending school and more completingtheir education at least to university or tertiary levels; countries have largely closed the “gender gap” in primary education. Many more girls are entering secondary school too, but there is a wide gap between girls’ and boys’ attainments.More women are now formally employed and even more are now holding influential political positions but still there is more to be done in order to achieve gender equality.

We envisage a world where all women and girls have equal opportunities to all mainstream socio and economic activities. Step It Up asks governments to make national commitments that will close the gender equality gap – from laws and policies to national action plans and adequate investment. NOW is the time to Step It Up For Gender Equality!

Gender inequality comes in many forms which range from:

  • Discrimination at the workplaces, schools, politics etc
  • Sexual harassment
  • Female genital mutilation in rituals
  • Domestic violence (women are dying every day through domestic violence)
  • marital rape and child sexual abuse, the latter often in the context of child marriage)
  • forced marriages and betrothals
  • forced prostitution and sex trafficking
  • mistreatment of widows (e.g. widow inheritance).
  • Gender disparities in health care provisions and access and facilities.

Today, we call on leaders to join women in a great partnership for human rights, peace and development. We call upon them to show an example in their own lives of how equality benefits everyone: man, woman and child. And we call on them to lead and invest in change at a national level to address the gender equality gaps that we know still persist.

There is an urgent need to change the current trajectories. The poor representation of women at political and economic decision-making levels poses a threat to women’s empowerment and gender equality that men can and must be part of addressing.

Women should be respected and recognized as equal citizens capable of excelling in all socio, economic and political aspects of the modern society just like our male counterparts.Everyone has a role to play to make gender equality a lived reality. We therefore call all stakeholders to advocate for passing new laws or strengthening existing ones is one way to Step It Up For Gender Equality.

Other actions to support this worthy cause might include:

  • creating programmes to eradicate violence against women and girls
  • encouraging women’s participation in decision-making
  • investing in national action plans or policies for gender equality
  • creating public education campaigns to promote gender equality
  • building health projects for women
  • continuing to promote women’s involvement in the economy and their financial inclusion
  • implementation of national action plans against violence against women
  • enforcing the quota system throughout all structures of decision making in society
  • supporting multilateral initiatives to eliminate harmful practices especially female genital mutilation and forced early marriages.
  • There should be gender equality and full enjoyment of human rights by women and girls.
  • Financing the poor children

When this is implemented, l can assure you that women will get to equality in the end. The only question is, why should we wait? So we’re celebrating International Women’s Day now, confident in the expectation that we will have still more to celebrate next year, and the years to come.

So, l call upon you, both as an individual and as a collective, to Step it up for Gender Equality because everything begins with you.

Now is the time, remember, nothing for us without us. With commitment to the struggle and consistency in the campaign, the sky is the limit. Gender equality is not a mirage but an attainable reality, so , let us all in our own no matter how small way embrace it and hence, ‘’ Step It Up For Gender Equality’’

TANHA MAMA TANHA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TANHA MAMA TAMHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KWIRA MUKADZI KWIRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

KWIRA MUKADZI KWIRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I THANK YOU.

ANGELINE CHITAMBO

ZEWU PRESIDENT

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