THE Ministry of Local Government and Public Works has roped in traditional leaders to play a key role in the fight against ending violence against women and girls and other harmful practices.
Through the departments of Gender Mainstreaming, Inclusivity and Wellness and Traditional Leadership Support Services, the Ministry has been coordinating meetings with traditional leaders and other key stakeholders aimed at ensuring that the Chiefs become champions in the fight against the gender-based violence
The first meeting was held in Mutate in September and encompassed traditional leaders from Manicaland.
Participants follow proceedings during the confence held in Mutare
The workshop was done in partnership with the UN Women under the Spotlight Initiative as well as support from the Women’s Action Group.
Speaking at the conference, Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister Honourable Marian Chombo hailed the role traditional leaders are played in the promulgation of the new Marriage Act which among other things seeks to bring the rights of men and women at par.
“Now parties to a marriage have equal rights upon death or divorce no matter what style of marriage they are in. Simply put, this new law guarantees equal property and estate rights for previously disadvantaged and disenfranchised women often termed as ‘small houses’,” she said.
“This could not have happened had our tradition leaders not taken part and contributed in the promulgation of this law.”
Chiefs hailed the initiative but added that they needed laws that empower them to deal with some of the cases in a traditional way because at the moment some cases related to GBV were, at law, not under the purview of their jurisdiction.
The conferences are mainly targeted to provide platforms for traditional leaders to develop an enabling legal, policy and institutional framework that facilitate a structured and harmonised way to respond, lead, govern, promote gender equality, end child marriages and discuss on harmful social and cultural practices that lead to gender-based violence
The platforms also gave the Chiefs the chances to share experiences, good practice, lessons learned and challenges on initiatives to end GBV and harmful practises.
An agreed traditional leaders’ framework and provincial structure on addressing Violence Against Women and Girls and harmful practises is set to be developed for the meetings.
The institution of traditional leaders is one of the oversight institutions which has been identified to ensure that it is committed to ending violence against women and girls and promote gender equality at national, district to community levels.
Another similar workshop was held in Bulawayo with Chiefs from Matabeleland region in October.