‘Zim is falling behind in implementing gender policies’

This week, the World Bank released the Zimbabwe Gender Assessment and Zimbabwe Gender Violence (GBV) Assessment reports. The main conclusions are that although Zimbabwe has put in place gender policies, their implementation is still lagging, while gender disparities are significant. According to the report, the prevalence of gender-based violence is high and the incidence of various forms of gender-based violence remains unchanged. In 2019, around 42.5% of women suffered physical and/or sexual violence, a figure similar to the rate of 43.4% reported in 2011 and higher than the global and regional averages of 27% and 33%, respectively. The report also notes that social or cultural norms such as ‘lobola pays’, child and forced marriages, have been the main drivers of gender-based violence. Our Senior Reporter Melody Chikono (MC) spoke to World Bank Country Manager Eneida Fernandes (EF, pictured) who said addressing gender disparities required both individual and community efforts. Below are excerpts from the interview:

MC: Notes that implementation of GBV programming has been affected by existing funding gaps. How can Zimbabwe move towards financing gender-based violence without relying solely on its partners?

FAITH: A multifaceted approach would help in this regard, and that could include intentionally allocating government budget for prevention and response programs. Furthermore, economic empowerment programs economically empower women and vulnerable populations, thereby indirectly reducing cases of gender-based violence.

MC: Although Zimbabwe has made significant progress according to your reports, you indicate that challenges remain in implementing GBV policies. What does it take for a nation, like Zimbabwe, to seriously ensure the implementation of policies against gender-based violence?

FAITH: Establishing accountable institutions that can assist in policy implementation and ongoing capacity development for law enforcement and service providers, community engagement, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of GBV interventions will be critical.

MC: If Zimbabwe were to succeed on this front, how do you see gender-based violence statistics in the next decade?

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FAITH: We should see a reduction in the incidence of gender-based violence, an increase in reporting and better support for survivors.

MC: It found that persistent gender disparities have led to an increase in communicable and non-communicable diseases among women. Would individual or community efforts be required to stop this?

FAITH: Addressing gender disparities requires both individual and community efforts. It involves promoting gender equality, improving women’s access to health care, and engaging the community in education to change harmful gender norms.

MC: It also notes that violence against children is an important issue. Can you explain this in relation to existing child rights and protection policies in Zimbabwe?

FAITH: Violence against children in Zimbabwe must be examined in the context of the country’s child rights and protection policies. It is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of these policies in preventing violence and protecting children’s rights, as well as identifying and addressing any gaps in legal and institutional frameworks.

MC: You mention that only 28% of survivors of gender violence sought help from the police, illustrating a lack of trust in authorities, driven, in part, by perceptions of corruption and the absence of victim-friendly services. . What mechanisms should be implemented to encourage victims to report?

FAITH: There is a need to strengthen the criminal justice system, ensure the availability of victim-friendly services, provide law enforcement with training in the sensitive handling of GBV cases, and build trust in authorities through community outreach and transparency. .

MC: Are we able to quantify the impact of gender-based violence on the Zimbabwean economy?

FAITH: We anticipate doing this as the next step in implementing the reports’ recommendations.

MC: How can Zimbabwe best eradicate gender-based violence through education in schools?

FAITH: The key is a comprehensive sexuality education curriculum that is taught while creating safe spaces for students and engaging parents and communities.

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