A member of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, who is was part of a delegation of Zimbabwean women in New York attending the annual Commission on the Status of Women conference, says there is an urgent need to align some laws that protect women and girl rights with the country’s new constitution.
Mufakose lawmaker, Paurina Mpariwa Gwanyanya, who is also the deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Women, says the conference has opened up discussions on strides that have been made in the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women globally.
"I learnt that water is key. It is a human right, water has been a problem in Zimbabwe. We have had a problem in terms of drought where the rain pattern has actually changed which means that wells are drying even the tapes are drying those who had boreholes sunk sometimes they are drying. I have learnt that we need to accelerate the digging of boreholes and the provision of water including in my constituency because women are the worst sufferers when to comes to access to water," said Mpariwa Gwanyanya.
Zimbabwe was represented at the conference by the Women’s Affairs Minister, Nyasha Chikwinya, members of the Parliamentary Committee on Women, the Gender Commission, and women and child rights organisations. The conference started last week and ended in New York on Friday.
The priority theme of the conference was women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development in addition to the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
This year also saw the inauguration of a two-day forum which drew over 300 participants from across the globe including Zimbabwe. The forum stressed the need for young people to be in the driver's seat in order to achieve gender equality.
"My take away is that we need to empower women in terms of access to employment, access to economic development, there is a lot of work that needs to be done and also the alignment of laws to the constitution especially those that have to do with women and young girls," added Mpariwa Gwanyanya.
Speaking on LiveTalk's Women's RoundTable, Mpariwa Gwanyanya committed to ensuring that the two young Zimbabwean women, who took the country to court against early child marriages and won the case, are included in next year's conference so that they can share their experiences.
One of the two women, Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, was married off at a very young age and won a landmark ruling outlawing early child marriages a few months ago but was not part of the delegation at the conference in New York.
"We hope to include these progressive young women in the conference next year so that they can share their experiences with others globally. We hope that we can use Goal 5 of the sustainable development goals which calls for the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls to include young women like Ruvimbo on our delegation next time," said Mpariwa Gwanyanya.
She admitted that Zimbabwe is lagging behind other African countries in terms of issues affecting women and young girls but experience gained at the conference will help advance the empowerment of women and girls.