#GenerationEquality: Call for Strengthened Male Involvement in Ending Violence against Women and Girls
Zimbabwe is one of the countries that has recorded significant progress in the movement to empower women and promote equality between men and women. Notably, various legislative reforms were done to create an enabling environment in which women are protected, and have access to opportunities for them to realise their full potential. However such positive milestones are being derailed by an increase in cases of violence against women and girls, a societal vice that has costed even the lives of the victims.
As we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, SAYWHAT takes this day as an opportunity to reflect on both progress and gaps in matters related to the gender agenda, especially in the context of young people. The reality of young women who confront gender-based violence in its various forms challenges us to reinvent our models, practices, and strategies to effectively deal with the contemporary gender issues affecting the society.
As an organisation, our strategic direction in the gender response is now directed towards creating an equal society in which men and women together, join efforts in not only contributing to the vision of the country but also collectively joining forces in addressing key social problems in their communities. As such, violence against women and girls is not only a women’s issue. It is a social course that calls for collaborative efforts between men and women
We call upon men in Zimbabwe to come on board and partner women in ending violence against women and girls. It is the right thing to do!
As SAYWHAT, we take pride in having mobilised various teams of dedicated young men who are playing active roles in addressing gender-based violence in various areas and in different contexts. Through our One Guy Campaign program, we have not only mobilised men to participate but for them to take a leading role in which they consciously engage other men, challenging retrogressive patriarchal systems and negative masculinity beliefs that have largely been the driving cause for inequality among men and women in the society.
Male participation in ending gender-based violence does not only contribute to reducing violence. Rather it empowers men and women to be key agents of development in communities and contribute to the desired future where men and women collectively participate in meaningfully contributing to the uplifting of communities and the country at large.
In the tertiary institutions, sexual harassment dominates as the major form of gender-based violence that has rendered most college campuses dreaded zones in which young women fail to freely pursue their academic dreams. SAYWHAT is working with its partners, including the college authorities to create an enabling environment in which sexual harassment is prevented and managed for students to enjoy safe learning spaces.
In this work, our emphasis is also directed towards ensuring the involvement of young men, not just as usual perpetrators but as key stakeholders in solution mapping to end the challenge. In various colleges, SAYWHAT has successfully managed to mobilise male students ambassadors who are championing for the rights of women and advocating for college environments in which female students can enjoy their right to education without fear of sexual harassment.
As we celebrate this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we challenge every man in Zimbabwe to stand up and be counted. We call upon for men to remain resolute in defending the rights of women and challenge belief systems, norms and values that suppress, segregate or undermine women.
Men and Women together. It is possible to create a violence-free Zimbabwe!