A coalition of four women’s organisations has embarked on a countrywide vote “yes” campaign of the draft charter, ahead of the constitutional referendum expected early next year.
REPORT BY BY SOFIA MAPURANGA
The Grassroots Women’s Network (GWN) said the draft constitution was the “best start” for women, as most of their rights were well-articulated.
The coalition is made up of the Self Help Development Foundation (SHDF), Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau, Jekesa Pfungwa/Vulingqondo and Young Women Christian Association.
Speaking at a training workshop on “enhancing women’s participation in the democratisation of Zimbabwe” last week, Women’s Affairs deputy minister Jessie Majome said women must be vested with the contents of the draft charter before the referendum.
“Women must recognise that this is the best start for our issues to be addressed by the law of the land,” said Majome.
The workshop, which targeted women from 55 districts countrywide, aimed at capacitating trainers with information on the contents of the draft constitution, so that they could advocate for a “yes” vote within their communities.
Majome said women must guard against politicians bent on manipulating the draft constitution for political expediency.
“For example, the issue of gay rights has been blown out of proportion yet the draft constitution does not even recognise gay marriages.
“They (gays) are up in arms with Copac saying we are violating their rights as Zimbabweans, yet certain politicians misinformed the people that we had endorsed gay rights,” she said.
SHDF director Wadzanai Vere said information gathered reflects that most women in the rural areas had no access to the draft constitution and relied on second-hand information from politicians and non-governmental organisations working in their communities.
“As women’s organisations, we have made a resolution that we should approach the whole constitution-making process from a woman’s perspective because in the end, the process ends up reflecting the politics of the day,” she said.
Vere urged women across the political divide to advocate for a “yes” vote “because the draft constitution is women friendly”.
“GWN aims at reaching out to all women and we are going to use flyers, radio programmes and even group discussions within communities to discuss the draft constitution,” said Vere.
“Women should be well-versed with contents of the draft if they are going to be in a position to make informed decisions in the referendum,” said Vere.
‘All-stakeholders’ indaba lacked transparency’
Women’s organisations, however, complained about accreditation criteria used at the recently held Second All-Stakeholders’ Conference.
They said, “it was virtually impossible to get accreditation as women’s organisations and we were forced to align to political parties.”
The conference ended with recommendations made by Zanu PF for 266 amendments to be made to the draft constitution being rejected by the two MDC formations.