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Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association's position on the COPAC
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA)
October 18, 2012
Today ZWLA takes
a bold apolitical stance, in the interest of Zimbabwean women and
girls, and announces its support for the draft constitution. After
a thorough analysis of the draft,
we realize that, though it is not 100% perfect, 75% of the demands
coming from women and identified as women's minimum demands
at the onset of the constitution
making process have been incorporated into the draft.
challenges from the current constitution include marginalization
and unequal participation, limited prevention of violations of rights,
limited protection of rights and minimal promotion of women's
From the gender
audit of the COPAC draft constitution, it is clear that there is
provision of a solid legal framework for the protection and promotion
of women's fundamental rights and freedoms. It also makes
provision for women's participation in the political and other
developmental processes of the country whilst providing for prevention
of violation of rights. It is comparatively better than the current
constitution. The draft constitution has many positive aspects that
address historical gender imbalances, including laws and policies
that discriminate against women and girls. Since time immemorial
women have had to cope with discriminatory laws, policies and practices
in this country and these have not been adequately addressed in
the 19 times that the current Constitution
(Lancaster House) has been amended. For this reason, we celebrate
the anti-discriminatory clauses in the draft constitution and the
equality principle. With a framework in place, we are expectant
that attitudes and practices that discriminate against women will
become a thing of the past.
Some of the
positive aspects we are celebrating in the draft constitution are
to do with the provision for a wide range of socio-economic rights,
which will ensure women's participation, respect, promotion
and protection of women's rights. Some of these rights include
the rights of women in the area of employment, right to education,
health including reproductive health, social welfare, property rights
and land rights.
The draft constitution
also makes provision for the protection of rights of specific groups
such as women, children, the elderly and differently- abled people.
We are also pleased to note that women will be protected from harmful
cultural practices such as pledging for appeasement of avenging
spirits (kuripa ngozi). Whilst these practices have been outlawed
by the Domestic Violence Act (Chapter 5:16), they have not been
outlawed by the current Constitution and this had in the past disproportionately
impacted on women's socio-economic and cultural development.
The draft also provides for bodily integrity and security of women
thus clearly protecting women from all forms of violence such as
domestic violence, public violence and sexual violence. Where necessary
there will be temporary special measures known as affirmative action
to correct past imbalances and ensure that men and women have equal
access to opportunities and resources. A specific Gender Commission
is created to have oversight on gender equality issues. These are
some of the developments that will go a long way in improving women's
socio-economic status as well as respect, protection and promotion
of their political, cultural and socio-economic rights and fundamental
The above advancements
are placed within a progressive governance framework that provides
for separation of powers and checks and balances that will facilitate
enforcement and implementation of the constitutional guarantees
making these a reality for the women of Zimbabwe.
The women of
Zimbabwe will have a lot to lose if the Copac Draft Constitution
does not sail through as it addresses the challenges women face
in their daily lives, hence we support it.
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