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Marking International Women's Day, Zimbabwean Activists Protest Abuse

Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paurina Gwanyanya Mpariwa said the nation wanted to appreciate the role of the women in Zimbabwe in their resilience for standing up for their rights very in very difficult circumstances.

Zimbabwean women joined the rest of the world Thursday in observing International Women's Day with activists calling for an end to all forms of abuse against women, especially political violence during election times.

This year’s theme was dubbed 'Empowering the Rural Woman - End Hunger and Poverty,' a milestone activists agree will be impossible to achieve in Zimbabwe if political violence remains a major ingredient in electoral processes.

In New York, a delegation of Zimbabwean women, led by Women's Affairs Minister Olivia Muchena, was attending the annual conference looking at the status of women worldwide.

Marking the day, the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said: "The MDC is ready to deliver real change, and for the first time you will experience a new democratic Zimbabwe with jobs, food, upliftment and equal representation in decision making."

Most non-governmental organizations urged the unity government to make sure violent elections become a thing of the past with more resources being set aside to empower the struggling rural woman.

For perspective on where Zimbabwe's women stand today, VOA's Sandra Nyaira turned to Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paurina Gwanyanya Mpariwa and Women’s Parliamentary Caucus chairperson Beatrice Nyamupinga.

Mpariwa said the main goal for Harare right now was to eradicate poverty and hunger in the rural communities by empowering local women.

"We want to appreciate the role of the women in Zimbabwe in their resilience, for their standing up for their rights very in very difficult circumstances, the counts and we are the champions," said Mpariwa.

On the other hand, Nyamupinga said the women's parliamentary caucus was working to open doors in government to promote women's issues that have long been set aside.

"There is a lot that still needs to be done, but it comes with the right people and legislation in government," she said.

Celebrations were boosted by a report by the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council that showed female students continuing to outshine their male counterparts in Advanced Level and Grade 7 examinations throughout the country for the second year running.

According to ZIMSEC, the 'A' level national pass rate for girls was 87 percent this year compared to nearly 84 percent for males. Grade 7 female students outscored their males 30 percent to 26 percent.

Educator Lester Zimani said he was excited by women's academic achievements over the past few years, adding this indicated a shift in the social status of females in the country.

"The girl child is now seeing that in developing countries like Zimbabwe, women are taking a major role in leadership positions, so they are encouraged to follow that," said Zimani.