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ZIMBABWE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ASSOCIATION’s PRESS STATEMENT ON THE 2019 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’s DAY

#BalanceforBetter #LeaveNoWomanBehind #WomenCan #ResponsibleInv

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) would like to join the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. Indeed the 8th of March marks a very important day on the worlds calendar as the world joins hands to celebrate womens achievements. The theme for International Women’s Day this year, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”, puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.

This day comes at a time when Zimbabwe is party to several treaties and conventions that promote and protect womens rights. The country also prides itself for having laws and a Constitution that enshrines women rights and gender equality in all spheres. Several strides have been made over the years to improve and advance womens rights with a view of achieving equality between men and women.

As ZELA guided by our Gender and Anti-sexual Harrassment Policy we have made several inroads in defending the rights of women. Much of the organization’s work revolves around our five thematic areas which are extractives and mining, local service delivery program, climate change and energy program, land and natural resources program and responsible investment and business program. We encourage and strive for equal participation and involvement of women in all our programs. Further, our programs are specifically tailored to address women`s challenges and help them assert their rights as enshrined in the Constitution. ZELA also works with several women rights movements known as the Women’s Forums at grass roots level in a bid to empower them to be involved in all facets of life.

However, be that as it may ZELA is deeply concerned about the condition and status of women in general, particularly in the mining sector. The #StopMacheteKillings campaign is a sad reminder of the rampant violence against women and girls rife in the artisanal and small-scale mining sector (ASM). ZELA affirms the need for gender sensitive government policies and legislation in the ASM sector to make is safe work space for women. The organisation notes that women and girls continue to be excluded in environmental decision-making associated with the use of natural resources. Women are reeling from the negative impacts of large scale investments in mining and extractive industries. For instance, water pollution along the Deka (Hwange coal mining), Save (Manicaland diamond mining) and Mazowe Rivers ( Mazowe gold mining) among others; loss of livelihoods from fishing (Hwange) and market gardening in Mutoko (black granite mining). At a time when oil is being explored, considering its devastating impacts on the environment as witnessed in other oil rich countries in Africa like Nigeria’s Ogoni community. ZELA thus calls for robust Gender Impact Assessments to be conducted before the decision to extract natural resources is made and continuous gender- impact monitoring conducted during the course of mining and extractive projects. ZELA continues calling for gender parity in the workplace in the mining companies at all levels.

Although the Constitution of Zimbabwe recognises property and land rights we have noted that most women have limited access to land in Zimbabwe. Most women in own land through their spouses and as such their access to land is tied up to the spouse. This in all manner and circumstances is not in tandem with the founding objective and values of the supreme law of the land. Further, the same flies on the face of International norms and standards that Zimbabwe subscribes to. We therefore motivate the government of Zimbabwe to adopt strategies and policies that increase woman`s access to land.

The most insidiously pervasive women’s rights deprivations and disparities result from increasingly regressive taxation, a mining tax regime that does not ensure mining companies pay a fair share of taxes. This women’s day we join the Global Days of Action on #TaxJustice for Women’s Rights as we continue calling for progressive reforms in the Zimbabwe’s mining tax regime and for government to make good on its statement in the Monetary Policy that Zimbabwe will join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Finally, as mega deals continue to be sought after and signed to attract the much needed FDI into our economy under the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra, ZELA calls for #ResponsibleInv in the mining sector and calls all women to sign this petition https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/responsible-investments-campaign#.W5dhoMnljTQ.twitter

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“Environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilisation of natural resources and environmental protection”

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