Zimbabwe Women Fight For Rights In New Constitution

Harare – For long Zimbabwean women have played second fiddle to their male counterparts in all spheres of life but a new constitution is set to change all this.

The new constitution contains the equality and non-discrimination clause, making it different from the current Lancaster house constitution, agreed in London in 1979 and amended 19 times since independence in 1980, where equality rights are not clearly stated.

Section 4.13(2) of the draft constitution categorically states that, “Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.”

Gender activist Virginia Muwaningwa spent the better part of the last three years campaigning for the recognition of women’s rights in Zimbabwe’s new constitution.

After two days in Harare of focused discussions on the draft constitution she hopes nothing much changes in the new draft.

About 1,200 delegates including the president and Prime Minister representing various interest groups from around the country gathered in Harare last week to discuss the constitution, which will be put to a referendum in January next year.

A new constitution is one of the key reforms expected before Zimbabwe can go to elections scheduled for the middle of 2013.

“I hope they will just take our submissions as they are,” said Muwaningwa the chairperson of the Harare-based Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), a pressure group focused on campaigning for women’s rights.

“We are generally happy that 75 percent of our submissions have been taken on board specifically the equality clause which does not exist in the current constitution.”

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