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Zimbabwe: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women urges Zimbabwe to close implementation gap, address gender-based violence

Source: UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Country: Zimbabwe
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the sixth periodic report of Zimbabwe on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Experts called on Zimbabwe to, inter alia, improve implementation of laws and the compliance with the Convention and to protect women and children from deepening gender-based violence. At the beginning of the dialogue, Committee Experts welcomed the country’s political will and the efforts to implement the Convention and stressed that the constructive dialogue aimed to strengthen and improve the situation of women’s rights in the country. They commended the elaborate list of grounds for non-discrimination in the 2013 Constitution and then pointed to a huge gap between the excellent text and its application. Many laws had not yet been aligned with the Convention, while weak compliance with its provisions and inadequate oversight mechanisms hampered the quality and level of progress in many fields, they said. Despite economic and other challenges, Zimbabwe adopted positive policies and administrative measures to curb negative stereotypes and gender-based violence. But, although criminalized, harmful traditional practices - forced virginity testing, female genital mutilation, forced wife inheritance and child marriage - continued. Today, 32.8 per cent, or one in three girls, were married before the age of 18, said the Experts. The delegation of Zimbabwe said that the country was doing everything possible to address the gaps between legal texts and practice and ensure the full application of the laws. Parliament had accelerated the alignment of legislation with the Convention and the priority was placed on the rights of women. The domestication of the Convention had been done in part and the inclusion of some of its provisions in the Constitution represented an important step forward. Zimbabwe did not spare any efforts to combat gender-based stereotypes and stop harmful traditional practices, said the delegation. The age of marriage was 18, the Marriage Law prohibited all forms of child marriage, and the child marriage bill would become law by June 2020. Combatting domestic violence was a priority for Zimbabwe, which was working closely with the police, the courts and the health services to assist the victims. Sithembiso Nyoni, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development of Zimbabwe, said in the presentation of the report that her country had adopted in 2013 a very progressive Constitution which incorporated gender equality and women’s rights. The National Programme on Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response 2016-2020 had, inter alia, led to the establishment of One-Stop Centres and community-based shelters for survivors of gender-based violence, and free legal aid. The national action plan and communication strategy on ending child marriages, which was being rolled out throughout the country, tackled social and cultural patterns that lead to discrimination and stereotyped roles for women, she said. In her concluding remarks, Ms. Nyoni said that Zimbabwe’s new Government embarked on a reform process and renewed the commitment to eliminating all forms of discrimination. Hilary Gbedemah, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the array of responses and explanations provided. The delegation of Zimbabwe was comprised of representatives of the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Public Service Commission, Parliament and the Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Zimbabwe at the end of its seventy-fifth session on 28 February. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed at http://webtv.un.org/. The Committee will next meet in public tomorrow at 10 a.m. to consider the sixth periodic report of Eritrea (CEDAW/C/ERI/6). Report The Committee is considering the sixth periodic report of Zimbabwe (CEDAW/C/ZWE/6).


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