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IYWD Leads Push for Model Gender Equality Bill

In a concerted effort to address gender disparities and ensure equal representation in Zimbabwe, the Institute of Young Women Development (IYWD) has spearheaded the push for the Model Gender Equality Bill (MGEB).

Collaborating with Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), the IYWD aims to advocate for comprehensive legislation that safeguards women’s rights and promotes gender equality across all sectors.

The MGEB was meticulously developed through consultations with communities, civil society organizations, government agencies, and legal experts.

It aims to operationalize the country’s new National Gender Policy and align with regional and international instruments like the Maputo Protocol and CEDAW, which are pivotal in promoting women’s rights.

Speaking on the sidelines of a policy engagement with women policymakers, Ministry of Women Affairs officials and community members in Bindura recently, Clontilda James, Knowledge Management, Documentation and Advocacy Associate for IYWD, said the Bill is meant to influence the enactment of the Gender Equality Act in Zimbabwe.

”As you all know we don’t have a Gender Equality Law as of now…This bill, submitted to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in 2021, encapsulates the principles necessary for a robust Gender Equality Law,” she said.

On their part, she added, they will continue with their steadfast advocacy to shape policies and decisions on critical issues such as constitutionalism and the implementation of gender-focused international instruments.

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The bill draws insights from experiences across the African continent, providing a robust framework for gender equality legislation.

According to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission Chief Executive Officer, Virginia Muwanigwa “Insufficient implementation of legislative framework…” is a major setback to ensuring gender equality in the country.

She further asserted that the MGEB presents an opportunity for progressive constitution, laws and policies to be implemented.

“We continue with our advocacy and lobbying to influence policymaking and decision-making on various issues such as Constitutionalism, the implementation of the country’s new National Gender Policy, and the implementation of regional and international instruments.”

“This will include Stakeholder Engagement Meetings with policymakers, such as Parliament, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, and the Ministry of Women Affairs.”

The MGEB contains specific Principles of Memorandum and was submitted to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in 2021 for consideration and further debate in the cabinet.

“Already IYWD has conducted various campaigns, petitions, and direct engagements with policymakers to advocate for gender equality.”

“We would like to continue with the advocacy in the post-election period to raise awareness and give impetus to the government on enacting a gender equality Act.”

The IYWD’s efforts have not only been confined to policy development but also extend to fostering relationships with media and political parties. These institutions play a crucial role in shaping attitudes and practices that promote women’s rights and political participation.

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“By partnering with the media, we’ve influenced a shift in reporting on women’s issues, contributing to a more gender-sensitive narrative that enhances women’s visibility and political participation,” the IYWD representative added.

“Strengthening collaboration with media organizations and political parties influences gender-sensitive and rights-based narratives on women’s political participation and representation.”

Political parties are encouraged to adopt gender-sensitive policies that uphold women’s constitutional and international rights.

The IYWD’s engagement with these parties aims to compel them to recognize and implement women’s civic and political rights as guaranteed in the Zimbabwean constitution.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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