NON-PROFIT arts advocacy organisation Nhimbe Trust will celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day with the launch of a gender action plan (GAP), a companion document to the 2015 to 2018 Nhimbe Strategic Plan in May.
GAP aims at addressing existing challenges in achieving gender equity such as unequal opportunities for women to showcase their creativity; the “glass ceiling” barrier that halts women from occupying senior decision-making positions in the public and private sectors; stereotypes and limitations on freedom of expression based on gender and specific challenges to access technical and entrepreneurial training as well as financial resources.
“The significance of promoting gender equality in the transmission of cultural knowledge and skills; the protection and safeguarding of heritage and the emergence and strengthening of a vibrant cultural and creative sector cannot be over-emphasised,” Nhimbe Trust communications manager Ronald Moyo said.
“At the core of GAP is promoting and defending women’s freedom of artistic expression as this gives women and girls opportunities to discuss abuses without fear of retribution or intimidation.
“ Too often, abuses of women’s rights are not discussed for fear of causing offence or retribution by adherents of tradition and culture, which is out of sync with international human rights laws, norms and practices.”
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually around the globe on March 8 as an occasion for reflecting on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. “IWD this year will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realising women’s rights,” Moyo said.
“The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
“To this end, the theme of this year’s IWD is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 Campaign Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!
“International standard-setting instruments for development work recognise culture as both a driver and enabler. However, culture is still largely regarded as an impediment to development, for example, on gender and women’s human rights” Moyo added.
Moyo said the struggle for women’s human rights, and in particular cultural rights, is not against religion, culture or tradition.
From the human rights perspective, the critical issue is not whether and how religion, culture and tradition prevail over women’s rights, but how to ensure that women own culture, including religion and tradition, and human rights.
He said a key challenge would be how to ensure women’s equal participation in discussions and decision-making on issues that could enable them to create new cultural meanings and practices.
“Suffice to say, negative views of culture in respect to gender and women’s rights is over-simplistic and problematic as it diverts attention from the specific actors, institutions, rules and regulations that keep women subordinated within patriarchal systems and structures.
“There is need for national targets and indicators on culture to inform local development and humanitarian work because we believe they have the potential to increase the impact of development and humanitarian work and can contribute to an accelerated achievement of ZimAsset and sustainable development goals post-2015,” Moyo said.