Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zimbabwe News Update: Treat Women With Respect Says President Mugabe

Treat women with respect: President

Herald Reporter

President Mugabe yesterday implored men to respect the role played by women in raising families and to treat them as equal partners.

The President said this while officiating at the ongoing high-level dialogue on women empowerment in the political and economic sectors.

"Each time I come to address women whether at party level or national level, one is always struck by the family role of the women. I always speak that I am the child of my mother. There are some young women here and some old and just like my mother, they bear the womb, that womb that produced me.

"They deserve, without talking about anything, respect because everyone else has come from that womb. As men, when we take up positions, we sometimes forget the sanctity of women," President Mugabe said.

He said women were sometimes abused because of long held traditional beliefs.

"We are in an environment where women have been abused, an environment where it has become traditional that purely on the strength of their gender, some are superior while others, on the weakness of their gender, are inferior.

"We were brought up that way without realising the role that women play and we are being given a rude awakening and being enlightened. Women are equal to men. She is a personality just like men in the family, society, regional and internationally," President Mugabe said.

The President said Government had prioritised women empowerment since 1980 as shown by the enactment and ratification of various national and international laws.

"This commitment to equal rights and opportunities for women is underscored by the various national, regional and international pieces of legislation that Zimbabwe has signed and ratified in efforts to enhance the status of women and the girl child," he said.

Such laws, he said, included the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform of Action and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the African Union Protocol on Women’s Rights and the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development.

Locally, the President said, Zimbabwe enacted the Legal Age of Majority Act, the Equal Pay Regulations, Administration of Estates Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act.

"Closer to the inclusive Government, the Global Political Agreement recognises the need for women’s equal access to and control of resources as equal citizens," President Mugabe said.

He said the Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme also paid attention to poverty eradication through women’s empowerment at all levels of the economy.

President Mugabe said Zimbabwe had made notable progress in the empowerment of women as signified by the holding of positions of Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Senate and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly by women.

President Mugabe said the inclusive Government had established the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration to achieve cohesion and unity.

"Let it be understood that the organ is our Zimbabwean strategic initiative and not an external prescription or imposition. With this open approach, we still find it surprising that certain groups of people who claim to be helping this healing process, continue to carry out their work in clandestine and clearly partisan ways and oftentimes as directed by our erstwhile colonial masters," he said.

Former Irish president Mrs Mary Robinson is attending the meeting.

Robinson hails Zimbabwe’s open approach to democracy

Herald Reporter

FORMER Irish president Mrs Mary Robinson has commended Zimbabwe’s efforts to build an open and participatory democracy, which ensures respect for the rule of law and protects the fundamental rights of all its citizens.

Mrs Robinson said this yesterday while giving a keynote address at the Dialogue on Women’s Empowerment workshop in political and economic sectors.

She said the Global Political Agreement signed by the three main political parties provided mechanisms for this to happen.

"I know many challenges remain for the people of Zimbabwe, but I believe that by working together in good faith you will achieve full implementation of your GPA and shape a more inclusive and transparent Government that protects all Zimbabweans," Mrs Robinson said.

She said there were some general principles on process and content in constitutional reviewing that were crucial for securing women’s rights.

She said a democratic constitution could be written in a non-participatory approach as well.

Mrs Robinson said the commitment to a participatory constitution-making approach was commendable but the challenge was to ensure that it actually entailed inclusive, participatory and gender-sensitive processes and outcomes.

"Effective participatory constitution making has to provide for women’s equal representation in the process and outcome. No process, which includes or marginalises the majority of the population can be representative.

"No constitution, which has failed to fully ensure the perspectives and concerns of women can be seen as fully legitimate over time. The equal participation of women and men in constitution making is an essential element for democratic governance. The public outreach phase currently planned is a vital stage in the process," she said.

Mrs Robinson stressed the security concerns of all involved in the constitution making process.

She said women and men must be allowed to operate in a violence and intimidation free environment and that such violence must be prevented and effectively prosecuted in Zimbabwe’s courts.

She said since Zimbabwe was signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women - Beijing Platform of Action, the African Union Protocol on Women’s Rights and the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development that address gender inequalities and it was now time to fully implement and embrace that as part of the constitution-making process.

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