Open Letter For The President: Women’s Coalition

Request for Prioritisation of Women’s Rights in Zimbabwe’s Agenda for Renewal

The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ), representing nonpartisan women’s rights organisations and activists in all 10 provinces of Zimbabwe wishes to join the rest of Zimbabwe in congratulating the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellence Emmerson Mnangagwa. We further acknowledge and take cognisance of the far reaching and inspiring commitments that he made in his speech during his inauguration.

We identify with the many issues that His Excellency raised in his speech regarding the need for Zimbabwe’s renewal in all socio economic sectors to position our country in readiness for economic growth, employment creation, equity, freedom and democracy and for the provision of vital social goods, principally health, shelter, clean water, education and other key social services.

Having convened a Women’s Convention on the 23th of November 2017 to build consensus on women’s aspirations for a better Zimbabwe and contributing the outcome of the Women’s Convention into the National People’s Convention on the 24th of November 2017, Women deliberated and expressed key concerns that we urgently ask His Excellence to consider, as outlined below:-

• Reduction and rationalisation of state departments and in government ministries, whose resourcing detracts from support to sectors & issues that require financing to reverse the disproportionate impact they have on the realisation of women’s rights.
• Appointing a gender balanced executive. In exercising his powers to appoint, we urge His Excellence to adhere with the Constitutional requirement as espoused in section 104 (4) regarding gender balance, as read with Section 17. Whilst ensuring equal representation, we urge His Excellence to further consider the appointment of women in the portfolios of Health, Finance, Education, Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministries, to which men have been perennially appointed.
• Transformation in the Register-General’s Office and the services it provides to women.
• Full domestication of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, underpinned by women’s rights.
• Allocation of 15% of the total 2018 budget to the Health sector in line with the Abuja
Declaration, and a return to the prioritisation of the primary health care model in Zimbabwe.
• Utilising his good offices to ensure the implementation of laws to significantly improve the state’s response to eradicating gender based violence. We want marriage law reform to be accelerated, in particular the prohibition of child marriages.
• Demonstrating the respect of the right to freedom of expression by the removal of laws that erode these rights, including AIPPA and POSA, whilst ensuring that hate speech is not tolerated and that public political affairs are promoting women voices, dignity and influence to positively shape public opinion.
• Formulating a gender responsive macro-economic policy. We are the economy and the economy is women. This policy must create and protect decent jobs for women, financial inclusion and equitable access to productive resources. This should include financial sector reforms that protect the rights of women as depositors.
• There must be an establishment of a progressive pro-poor and pro-women tax system.
• We urge His Excellence to take definitive steps in the land sector through a land audit which is gender disaggregated, and the publication of the results. “To ensure finality and closure to ownership of this key resource”, in your own words, in a manner that provides for women’s equal access to, and control of land.
• An urgent national, participatory and transparent review of the new curriculum in education. This must result in an equitable and responsive state program, to support the construction and rehabilitation of schools, including infrastructure which is accessible and acceptable.
• Deliberate steps taken to strengthen the administrative and operational independence of the Chapter 12 institutions supported by an adequate resourcing mechanism.

We are requesting to have the opportunity to expound further on these issues, for a fuller
appreciation by His Excellency of the context and experiences informing these issues. As women, we stand ready to support a progressive agenda for the nation, and to work towards a bright future for us all equitable access to productive resources. This should include financial sector reforms that protect the rights of women as depositors.
• There must be an establishment of a progressive pro-poor and pro-women tax system.
• We urge His Excellence to take definitive steps in the land sector through a land audit which is gender disaggregated, and the publication of the results. “To ensure finality and closure to ownership of this key resource”, in your own words, in a manner that provides for women’s equal access to, and control of land.
• An urgent national, participatory and transparent review of the new curriculum in education. This must result in an equitable and responsive state program, to support the construction and rehabilitation of schools, including infrastructure which is accessible and acceptable.
• Deliberate steps taken to strengthen the administrative and operational independence of the Chapter 12 institutions supported by an adequate resourcing mechanism.

We are requesting to have the opportunity to expound further on these issues, for a fuller
appreciation by His Excellency of the context and experiences informing these issues. As women, we stand ready to support a progressive agenda for the nation, and to work towards a bright future for us all.

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