What Zimbabwean Women Want


By: 
JASS and Institute for Young Women's Development

Who are we?

We are a group of Zimbabwean women who use feminism as our political stand-point, analytical framework and guiding vision. We are committed to a liberatory project that encompasses political, socio-cultural, spiritual, sexual and economic transformation. We live and work in and outside of Zimbabwe and have a shared vision of a Zimbabwe that embraces diversity and is inclusive. 

Where are we coming from?

On the 11th and 12th of July 2018, Just Associates Southern Africa (JASS SNA) together with the Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD) convened a National Women’s Pre-election conversation, to better understand the needs and demands of Zimbabwean women from different racial, class, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identities, as we head towards Zimbabwe’s 11th election.   This manifesto is the outcome of our conversations on issues affecting our ability to exercise and enjoy our full human rights. 

What is the problem?

For 11 years we have participated in elections that have rarely benefitted us in a sustained way.  In fact, things are getting worse for us on a daily basis.  Our struggles and leadership are trivialised and invisibilised; our bodies and sexuality are controlled through repressive laws, all forms of violence and personal attacks, online and offline, across the political and socio-economic divides. Many of us have been silenced and pushed out of the public arena; we have non-functional, sexist or gender blind public services, which have exacerbated our unpaid care burden, our marginalization and left us with unmet needs; sexist slurs, verbal and physical violence along with the closing of secular space have discouraged and frightened many of us from engaging in the public arena; privatisation of health care, education, water and other public services means the State is no longer upholding our basic human rights. Where does this leave us?  As we move towards the 2018 elections, what do we want from the public officials we will put into power?

Zimbabwean women defining the Zimbabwe we want

We demand the following from anyone who wants to be our elected representative at all levels of governance:

Public Services That Work:  We demand, a Zimbabwe where public services are responsive to our rights and needs.  This includes: Clean water, sanitation in both rural and urban areas, safe and affordable housing and refuse removal.  Quality health care services (affordable treatment centres and medicines), maternal health facilities, cancer (cervical) screening and HIV treatment), and particularly Sexual and Reproductive services. State provision of responsive, accessible and affordable child-care facilities and quality public education from early childhood right through to tertiary.  Social protection for the most marginalised and those made vulnerable and impoverished by the unjust macro-economic system.

Economic Justice: A Zimbabwe where economic needs are met in a just and equitable manner.  Recognising the inequalities that exist in our society that have excluded women from the mainstream economy, we demand equal access to and control of land and other productive resources, decent jobs, equal pay for equal work, better working conditions and access to cash and finance.   The State must actively eliminate the very wide economic inequalities and disparities in present day Zimbabwe through a redistributive policy agenda. Younger women want an economy in which they can dream and thrive.

My Body, My Choice:  We demand a Zimbabwe where all women in our sexual diversities and all people can fully exercise their sexual rights, bodily autonomy and agency without fear of reprisal or attack. 

Infrastructure That Works: We demand a Zimbabwe with quality housing, an improved road and transportation networks and street lights that enable us to pursue livelihoods of our choice and live dignified lives.

Women in Public Life: We demand a Zimbabwe where women have a right to participate freely and meaningfully in all decision-making spaces and processes.  We want to exercise our rights as voters, or as leaders without fear of any forms of violence, including verbal attacks. We want space to organise in our social movements and organisations. The State must stop persecuting our organisations and remove all legislation that has closed our space since 1980. Religious leaders and institutions as well as the State must keep their beliefs and values out of the public arena and off our bodies and choices! We want a secular State founded in fundamental human rights values, principles and practices, to which Zimbabwe has voluntarily acceded via the African Union and the United Nations.

Deep Accountability:  We demand a Zimbabwe free from militarisation, where minerals and resources are used to enrich the country as a whole and the people residing in it. Decision making on public rights, resources, interests and services must be open and transparent so as to not cede, mislead or expedite decisions in the interests of vested individuals, companies or elites.   

Cultural Production:  A Zimbabwe where women are free to engage in the artistic expression without fear of reprisals and where our work in this sphere is valued and seen as a contribution to the legacy of Zimbabwe’s herstory.  

This is our manifesto which we will use to make our choices on the 30th of July. It is the tool we will use to judge the freeness, fairness and credibility of the election. We will also use it to hold accountable, anyone elected to lead Zimbabwe at any level from August 2018 onwards.   We are here. We are watching. We will vote. We will hold you to account.

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