Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ ) launched the #Section56 Campaign on 8 April by marching in Harare.
Over 150 women marched from Town House to Theatre in the Park in Harare Gardens demanding that Section 56 of the constitution which speaks to equality of all persons is implemented in all national policies.
The three main issues that the campaign aimed to address are; the failure to change of state practice towards women, the de-prioritisation of women and the deepening of marginalisation of women.
After the march , participants gathered at the venue to launch and sign a declaration in agreement with the content and also as a way of pledging commitment to the campaign.
Speaking after reading the declaration WCoZ chairperson, Pamela Mhlanga highlighted that Section 56 is the core of women’s rights but it has to be acknowledged with other relevant sections of the constitution in order to be effective.
“We are launching Section56 today but we are saying the entire constitution must deliver for women and it is our entitlement not a privilege,” said Mhlanga.
Trade Unionist and Director of Female Prisoners Support Trust, Dr Rita Nyamupinga spoke to issue of equality in the workplace. She cited women should not fear to take up any position they are qualified for, at the same time they should receive equal pay for it.
She said, “We should use today’s campaign to motivate each other about demanding our rights, if we leave this building without that anger we will not do anything about equality.”
The campaign was also used to encourage women to start thinking of the various ways in which women need to ensure that they are equality represented in the coming 2018 elections both in government and council.
Women who signed the declaration pledged to take action towards advancing their rights in various ways. Sharing information on the constitution on women’s rights, promoting the acknowledgement of 18 as the legal age of marriage, advocating for comprehensive healthcare and active participation in local governance processes are some action points stated in the declaration.
The march attracted triple the number of participants that had been anticipated. The Zimbabwe Republic Police had granted the coalition permission to march with only 50 participants but on actual day over 150 women took part. Members who could not attend also participated online via Facebook and Twitter under the hashtags #section56march and #gakamoto. ‘Gaka moto’ is a Shona phrase which calls for one to light up a fire which translates to action.
WCoZ is the umbrella body of women’s rights organisations and activists in Zimbabwe. Women subscribe as organisations or individuals and participate through provincial chapters around the country.