Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution recognises gender equality as one of the nation’s founding principles. However there is a lot of work to do to bring the current laws supporting women’s rights in line with the new Constitution. Additionally, women don’t know about these laws which means violence goes unreported and women don’t have the opportunity to get justice.
Harmful practices in Zimbabwe, such as forced virginity testing and marriage by abduction, reinforce women’s inferior position in society.
- Almost half of women have experienced physical or sexual violence. One in three experience sexual violence before they’re 18 (UN Women – Zimbabwe).
- Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with up to 50 per cent of young girls being under the age of consent in rural areas (UN Women – Zimbabwe).
- Women hold around 39 per cent of seats in parliament (Inter-Parliamentary Union 2014).
- 6.6 per cent of females aged 15 to 24 have HIV (World Bank Data).
Ending violence through the justice system
While laws exist to protect them, women routinely lose their property when their husband dies and they aren’t viewed as equals in marriage or divorce.
With our support the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) works on:
- Providing legal aid to women and girls experiencing domestic violence and involved in disputes over marriage, divorce, inheritance, child support and property
- Increasing awareness of women’s rights among community members and local leaders to change cultural and social norms
- Educating government officials and law enforcers about women’s rights and how they can improve women’s access to justice
- Pressuring government to pass appropriate laws to protect women.
“The biggest impact I got from ZWLA is a feeling of power over my life. I am now an assertive person and can speak for myself. I give advice to other women in similar situations.” 31-year-old woman from Bulawayo who received legal aid
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA)
Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) is an association of women lawyers established in 1992 which has been providing legal services ...
Helping women rebuild their lives after violence
Rates of domestic violence in Zimbabwe are extremely high whilst there is an anti-Domestic Violence Act in place, more can be done to reinforce the law and increase protection for women. Our partner, Musasa, sits on the Anti Domestic Violence Council, which advises government bodies how to best put the law into practice. They also provide immediate support for women.
With our support, Musasa is :
- Supporting women survivors of domestic abuse to escape from violence by providing temporary shelter and counselling
- Offering legal support and training in entrepreneurship to women at its ‘safe house’ and referring them to organisations or government departments providing specialist support for those affected by domestic violence
- Targeting MPs and government officials to run programmes to prevent violence and protect women
- Operating a 24-hour helpline for women, children to receive support and advice about everything from rape and sexual violence to physical abuse from the police.
“I realised that I cannot continue to stay at my home with a violent husband. I have both my children with me here at Musasa’s safe house. My daughter is four and going to pre-school. Musasa helps me with my bus fare to drop her off and pick her up every day. I spend the day with my younger son at the safe house. It’s a safe place for me and the children.” Grace
Musasa provides services such as counselling, medical care, temporary shelters and legal support to women survivors of violence, as well ...
Improving women’s involvement in politics
Since the 2013 Election, there are more female members of Parliament and there is a quota in place to ensure that 60 seats are held for women. However, these few women who make it into politics in Zimbabwe often hold limited power and still face challenges in being seen as equal to their male counterparts and providing meaningful contributions.
We support our local partner, Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU), in:
- Supporting women to become MPs by training them in how to best represent constituents, and campaigning and leadership skills
- Increasing and deepening women’s involvement in community-based decision-making by establishing forums where they can raise concerns with local counsellors
- Helping female MPs and councillors from all parties to promote women’s rights in parliament and local government
- Making decision-making systems more accountable to female constituents and community members
“As a woman leader, I was taught hygiene and being presentable, to be approachable, not jealous. I was groomed as a leader. I can address others confidently, take community issues from the people to the offices and give feedback to the community. I learned to participate in politics by taking up leadership positions. I learned that community consultation forums are the ears, eyes, and the legs of the MP.’’M Ncube from Mapfungautsi
Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU)
WiPSU works to increase the number of women participating in politics and the local government. They do this by holding ...
Our impact in Zimbabwe
Thanks to our partnership with women’s organisations in Zimbabwe, we have:
- Helped 123 women to become MPs through training and coaching
- Established eight local forums where women can share their needs with councillors
- Supported 22,300 women to rebuild their lives and live free from violence after receiving counselling, safe house services and support to assert their legal rights
- Provided 8,031 women with legal aid services and arranged women’s rights and legal awareness sessions for 3,439 women and 5,159 men
- Increased awareness of women’s rights among 707 government officials and leaders of non-governmental organisations and local authorities across 13 districts.
Find out more about our impact
Help us do more
£77 can pay for WIPSU to organise a meeting with a senior political party official to talk about women’s rights.
£143 can fund campaigning training for a female parliamentary and local government election candidate.