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Zim struggles to attain gender equality: World Bank

ZIMBABWE continues to face significant challenges in achieving gender equality and combating gender-based violence (GBV), the World Bank has said.

The World Bank Group, in its Zimbabwe Gender-based Violence Assessment Report, said despite ranking better than the Sub-Saharan Africa average on the Gender Inequality Index, Zimbabwe continued to lag global estimates on gender equality indicators.

The report said a substantial percentage of women in the country had experienced physical, sexual or both forms of violence.

It further indicated that patriarchal social norms continue to perpetuate inequality and violence, while survivors of GBV often face barriers in seeking help and justice.

“The prevalence of gender-based violence is high, and incidences of several forms of GBV remain unchanged. In 2019, around 42,5% of women experienced physical and/or sexual violence — similar to the 43,4 rate reported in 2011 and higher than the global and regional averages of 27%  and 33%, respectively,” the report said.

“Women in Zimbabwe still experience higher rates of HIV/Aids, lower formal employment levels and are less likely to complete secondary education compared to men.”

It further indicated that less than half of GBV survivors seek help, with only 37,7% of individuals affected by the scourge seeking help.

The report also flagged cases of violence against children saying less than 40% of survivors knew where to access GBV services while only 5% sought and received assistance.

“Harmonisation of laws on GBV has been occurring since the new Constitution was adopted in 2013. Progress has been slow for several reasons, which include inadequate financial, human, material and technical resources; lack of political will by some ministries; and weak co-ordination among key stakeholders.

“Several laws have also not been harmonised to meet GBV requirements. Implementation of GBV legislation is also hamstrung by weak accountability mechanisms and inadequate human and financial resources. Additional mechanisms for criminalising GBV practices need to be put in place,” the report said.

It further indicated that while there was significant progress in narrowing gender disparities and addressing GBV in Zimbabwe, overall rates of GBV and violence against children remain alarmingly high.

“Other forms of GBV include child marriage, with 33,7% of women marrying before age 18, and 5,4% before age 15. Over 90% of women experience sexual harassment at work,” the report said.

It urged the government and Parliament to effectively combat GBV and protect vulnerable populations, strong legislative frameworks, policy support and comprehensive strategies are urgently needed.

Source | NewsDay


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