Women inmates benefit from Human Rights Awareness

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights (RWI) working in collaboration with the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR) have from 2016 held professional human rights trainings.

On the 3rd and 4th of December 2019, the RWI and CALR held a final phase of the Equal Status of Women Rights and Human Rights group, where they presented their reports on the implementation of their action plans.

Speaking at the workshop, one of the participants from Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services who collaborated with two participants from the Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Justice implemented what they had learnt during the first phases. The trio provided legal aid clinic to female inmates during their human rights awareness campaign at the Shurugwi Female Prison.

The female inmates benefited from the dissemination of human rights information. The action plan was titled, “Human Rights Awareness Raising and Legal Aid Clinic” which sought to raise general human rights. Some of the issues discussed during the awareness campaign include, rights of prisoners in the Bill of Rights, maintenance law, marriage and property laws.

The incarcerated women had an opportunity to air their concerns, where they felt that their rights were infringed, and the action plan put out concerns like unlawful detention of minors who would be with their mothers, issues of food provision, and sanitary provisions. It was highlighted by the participants, through their project that the enjoyment of Human Rights should spread across all social stratas, including those in the prisons.

Women and the youths, the elderly and the disability are vulnerable groups that were previously neglected and suffered, as such, several projects presented sought to amplify the voices of women, increase awareness about their rights and how the society should respect their rights. Furthermore, while women’s rights are provided in several Constitutional provisions, there still exist a gap in terms of implementation and realisation of those rights, particularly in rural areas.

A participant from Girls and Women Empowerment Network Trust (GWEN) and another one from Padare Enkundleni Men’s Forum jointly implemented a project titled ‘Challenging patriarchal power that hinder women and girls from enjoying equal rights with men through dialogue’. This project was implemented in Chitungwiza. During its implementation, challenges affecting young women were highlighted, with some emanating from patriarchal tendencies entrenched from cultural and religious norms and practices. The two participants produced pamphlets with information to help women identify and fight violations against women and girls.

Another action plan implemented was on gender mainstreaming in legislation. The participant argued that most laws in Zimbabwe are not gender sensitive since there is currently no gender impact assessments conducted by law makers. Therefore, it was imperative to give effect to gender provisions in the Constitution by ensuring that all stakeholders are capacitated and fully comprehend how different laws affect men and women differently.

The action plans are key in realizing women’s human rights and they are tailored to suit a perspective community and to address a specific human rights-related issue