On this year’s International Women’s Day, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) calls on the progressive world community to join us to recognise and celebrate all the women from more than 12 tribal and ethnic minority groups in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe for their continued activism for justice, human rights, development, equality and fairness.
Women in Matabeleland have, since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, been subjected to numerous successive systemic forms of organized state sponsored injustices and gross human rights violations that include the Gukurahundi Genocide, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), the land invasions, Operation Murambatsvina, political violence, the Bulawayo De-Instrustrialization Agenda and social exclusion among others. These injustices have led to the violation of the rights of women in both rural and urban areas including right to life, right to personal dignity, right to safety and security, property rights, right to employment, political rights, freedom of association and assembly among others.
As we join the progressive world in commemorating the 2018 International Women’s Day under the theme “Time is now: rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” we as Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) recognize all the women of Matabeleland as activists in their own right because they have all contributed to the agenda for the protection, promotion, respect aand fulfilment of human rights in the region.
Matabeleland women have single handedly raised families when the men were either fleeing Gukurahundi, fleeing political violence, fleeing economic hardships or were killed by the Gukurahundi genocide. Matabeleland women have for years been quietly teaching their children and grandchildren the languages and cultures found in their communities even at the time when the government of Zimbabwe has been frantically trying to annihilate the languages and cultures of the minorities in the region through the integration policies. Matabeleland women have been innovative to continue farming and provide food and water for their families even in the midst of acute desertification and climate change in the region. Matabeleland women have continued to tell the story of Matabeleland injustices passing on the memory to their children and grandchildren. Matabeleland women have defied dictatorship and one party state ideology by continuously making risky decisions of voting for the opposition parties even at the detriment of their own lives.
MIHR also takes this opportunity to call on:
- The government of Zimbabwe to respect the lives of the women in Matabeleland by implementing the Devolution of Power Clause in Chapter 14 of the Constitution as well as by releasing the unedited Chihambakwe and Dumbutshena Gukurahundi Inquest Reports;
- The Bulawayo City Council to stop harassing women who are trying to make a leaving by vending in the City and instead find common ground of ensuring that their economic activities are done without violating the council by-laws.
MIHR General Secretary