Gender equality is a core value for UNICEF
Gender equality is integrated into all areas of UNICEF’s work in Zimbabwe. This is so because, gender equality is a core value for UNICEF. In addition the promotion of gender equality is a priority issue for the government of Zimbabwe as reflected in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The Constitution in section 56, provides a strong framework for the protection and promotion of the rights of women and men, girls and boys in Zimbabwe. It recognises the equality of all persons and goes further to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sex or gender. In addition, the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development supports the promotion of gender equality across all government programmes, using the National Gender Policy.
At an international level, Zimbabwe is a State Party to a number of regional and international conventions and treaties that support gender equality in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women- the CEDAW and the Optional Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa
While women and girls constitute 52% of the population, they still lag behind across key sectors in the country.
Despite progressive laws and treaties in support of gender equality, the biggest challenge has been on the implementation of these formal rights and their translation into tangible gains for women and girls. While women and girls constitute 52% of the population, they still lag behind across key sectors in the country
Here are some highlights of other challenges
- Maternal mortality remains a cause for concern with 581 per 100 000 live births.
- In education, while nearly 78% of the pupils complete primary school, transition to secondary school remains a challenge. For secondary school boys, school fees remain a challenge, while for girls, a combination of early marriage and pregnancy (48%) are issues of concern. (According to (MICS, 2014) one in four girls aged 15-19 are married).
- In Child Protection, there are gendered patterns in violence against children, with boys more likely to experience physical punishment, while for girls, sexual violence is a major concern at home as well as school related gender based violence.
- In WASH, women and girls retain the burden of fetching water for household use (84% of water carrying done in Zimbabwe is by women and young girls); while menstrual health and hygiene remain major challenges, particularly for adolescent girls, for whom the consequences include negative impacts on ability to effectively attend school.
- HIV and AIDS remains an issue of concern with adolescent girls and young women remaining over two and half times more likely to be infected by HIV than boys and young men of the same age group.
Gender Equality requires equal access to and enjoyment by boys and girls, women and men of socially valued goods, opportunities, resources and rewards. Achieving gender equality requires changes in institutional practices and social relations through which gender disparities are reinforced and sustained.
Response and Priority Areas
The country office is guided by the UNICEF Global Gender Action Plan. UNICEF works to address the identified challenges and to promote gender equality in Zimbabwe by taking a twin tracked approach:
Mainstreaming; gender is mainstreamed across programme sectors including Child Protection, Education, Health, HIV &AIDS, Social Policy and WASH.
Targeted priorities: UNICEF also develops targeted programmes based on key priorities for the country office. In Zimbabwe, the priorities reflect the renewed focus on adolescent girls. Key work is around Ending Child Marriages and a coordinated multi-sectorial approach to Menstrual Health and Hygiene.
UNICEF is accelerating gender equality by addressing the gender-specific discrimination and disadvantages.
UNICEF harnesses the full force of our global presence and partners to help further gender equality. The Gender Action Plan are our road map to help level the playing field.