By Joyce Mukucha and Anyway Yotamu
Various stakeholders have come together in launching the She Decides Zimbabwean Chapter, a global political movement which enables courageous collaborative driving progress towards a world where every girl and woman can decide what to do with their her bodies and future without question.
The movement is also aimed at advocating politicians, organisations, creatives and people particularly young people to stand together in solidarity and advance the fundamental rights of girls and women everywhere to make their own choices, to have access to comprehensive sexuality education and the full range of quality care that unites all parts of her sexual and reproductive life and health.
Unpacking the value of the Movement to Zimbabwe during a She Decides Zimbabwe Launch Open Mic Cocktail at a local hotel in Harare on the 6th of December 2019, one of the panellists Tadiwanashe Burukai said there was need to galvanise communities so that everyone becomes a champion in ensuring that girls and women are consulted in decision-making processes that inform development priorities and equitable access to resources.
She emphasised that when a girl or young woman has the courage to decide, the world is better, stronger and safer since she can create a life she deserves, the family she wants and a prosperous future to call her own.
“The movement is imperative to Zimbabwe in the sense that it empowers young women and girls to stand up and speak out for their rights especially sexual rights. Zimbabwe is generally a conservative country with strong cultural beliefs and the presence of such strong cultural and religious beliefs inhibits girls from accessing frank abortion services they might require and as a result, the decisions they then make are influenced by the people around the community thereby affecting their dreams and future. Therefore She Decides seeks to engage in dialogue, with communities and all stakeholders, a dialogue which incorporates and addresses sexual and reproductive health needs in an inclusive manner founded on the principles of human rights,” she said.
The Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Rene Cremonese who also graced the occasion said it was important to spearhead the movement and make it known with various people from various backgrounds and ensure that everyone commits to promote young women and girls’ access Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) especially the health, rights and wellbeing.
Cremonese sentiments also found support from a strong equality advocate in the civil society who said: “Although the government has developed the school health policy and the sexuality, Life Skills and HIV strategy, there are still gaps in delivering the actual comprehensive sexuality education. There is need to unlock many resources to empower girls. We are committed to reach to communities at grassroots level and regionally, nationally as well as internationally as we intend to push the movement until the girl child is able to decide own her own,” said HIVOS Southern Africa Director, Tanja Lubbers.
The colourful event was also graced by stakeholders from SAFAIDS, Katswe Sisterhood, Shamwari Yemwanasikana, SRHR Africa Trust, My Age, and Patsimeredu Edutainment Trust among other organisations. All the stakeholders pledged to stand up in solidarity to fight against fear and erase the cultural, social and political limitations and inadequacies compromising the practice of providing comprehensive SRH services, information and education which can leverage in the attainment of positive health outcomes for young women and girls.
The global movement became a reality at the first big pledging conference in Brussels, 2017 after the Global Gag Rule Funding cut that has affected many girls and women’s access to sexual reproductive health services.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Zimbabwe Deputy Representative Gulnara Kadyrkulova said the United Nations was ready to work with the government in the advancement of gender equality and cited a number of programmes including the Spotlight Initiative which had come up with a One Stop Centre for survivors of gender-based violence in Hopley.
The Parliament of Zimbabwe was represented by Joana Mamombe, the Member of the National Assembly for Harare West Constituency who pledged her time as a young legislator to advocate for women empowerment in the August House.