khupe-thokozani.jpgThe International Women’s Day commemoration is an occasion to reflect on wishes by women to fully express themselves, participate in critical decision making process and contribute to the growth of the economy while also looking back on past accomplishments by women folk.

International Women’s Day was first celebrated in Copenhagen, in 1910, and this year’s commemorations mark the centenary celebrations.

 

It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements and a time to assert their equality to men.

 

The theme for this year’s celebrations is Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities – Progress for all.

 

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

 

In the past ten years, several measures have been introduced to enhance the legal status of women.

 

These include legislation which empowers the court to equitably divide and reallocate property such as land in the case of divorce while making it possible for a widow to claim a share of the estate of her husband on the basis of her contribution to its acquisition, and to continue to enjoy the use of crops and animals.

 

Married women can now also acquire immovable property, including land, without having to obtain consent from their husbands.

 

However, women still do not have equal access to land in the communal areas. Married women have only secondary land use rights through their husbands and divorced women are required to vacate the land and acquire new land in their original homes before marriage.

 

In addition, rural women who are not in formal employment are not covered by social security schemes.

 

However gender equality and empowerment of women are fundamental to the mission of the UN to achieve equal rights and dignity for all.

 

In Zimbabwe, hundreds of women from across the political divide took the occasion of the International Women’s Day to speak out about the need for gender equality, respect for women’s rights and an end to violence.

 

More than sixty member organisations affiliated to the women’s coalition converged at Harare gardens in the capital, joining the rest of the world in commemorating International Women’s day.

 

Addressing the gathering Deputy Prime Minister Ms Thokozani Khupe said women must be accorded the respect and the opportunities they deserve to become partners in building a prosperous country.

 

Various speakers including Minister of Regional Intergration and International Cooperation Mrs. Priscilla Misihairabwi – Mushonga, Chairperson of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus Cde Beatrice Nyamupinga and Mr. Goran Engstrand from the Swedish embassy also delivered solidarity messages acknowledging work that is done by women some of which is often unnoticed.

 

The Zimbabwean government has also enacted a number of laws to protect women like the Domestic Violence Act and the legal age of majority act.

 

Zimbabwe is also a signatory to the millennium development goals and one of the goals, empowering women and promoting gender equality is recognised as one of the world’s main development challenges.