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Zimbabwe church leaders spearhead new campaign on violence against women

06 December 2019

SpeakOut! campaign seeks to shift gender norms in Zimbabwe to end violence against women

A symbolic ‘silencing’ of women took place during the launch before an unsilencing process linked to the need to ‘Speakout’. Photo : Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / Trócaire

In Zimbabwe, almost seven in ten women experience some form of violence in their lifetime. To tackle this crisis, Trócaire has joined together with Church leaders and other partners in Zimbabwe to launch a national SpeakOut! campaign.

Launched this month, the SpeakOut! campaign aims to reduce Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in churches, faith spaces and the wider community across Zimbabwe.

Faith plays an extremely important role in the lives of people in Zimbabwe, with over 84% of the population of Zimbabwe being a member of a Church. There is huge trust in faith leaders, and the campaign aims for these leaders to influence their faith communities to take action to both prevent and address all forms of violence against women.

Rev Kenneth Mtata, General Secretary of Zimbabwe Council of Churches speaking to the Zimbabwe media during the national campaign launch. Photo : Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / Trócaire

The campaign harnesses the influencing power of the 4 main religious bodies in Zimbabwe, through the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian denominations (ZHOCD), an umbrella body of:

  • Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference-ZCBC;
  • Zimbabwe Council of Churches-ZCC;
  • Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe-EFZ;
  • The Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe UDACIZA

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Trócaire’s Country Director for Zimbabwe, Sarah McCan said “as well as being a fundamental violation of a woman’s human rights, gender-based violence hinders women’s and girls’ access to education, access to health, their decision making within the household and their community, and their lives. Survivors often deal with stigmatisation and marginalisation by families, communities, and society at large.”

“The church is committing itself to tackling the harassment of women and girls in our society” said Fr Fradereck Chiromba, Secretary General ZCBC. “But first, it will take a change of our mind set: the way we view women and girls to realise that we are all equal and that we should treat each other kindly and with love. Respecting each other’s human rights. This will help us eradicate harassment, including the beatings of our girls and women in our society”

“What we can do is to demonstrate in our practise in the church that both men and women can occupy positions of leadership” said Rev Dr Kenneth Mtata, General Secretary ZCC.

Pastor Blessing Makwara, General Secretary EFZ says “within the church there are various groups, for women, men, girls and boys and the pulpit for everybody. So we are going to use these platforms to generate conversations on how we can be able to be each other’s keeper”.

The SpeakOut! campaign has been launched to coincide with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. This is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls.

Following the launch, the campaign will continue into next year. Across faith communities, there will be public awareness raising events, round table discussions, and dialogue within the Churches, from the grassroots to the leadership. The campaign will also provide training and support for handling cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence as they arise, and to know where to refer survivors to.

We hope this campaign will have a positive and lasting impact for the women of Zimbabwe.

Follow the campaign on Twitter here