|UNDP Supports Capacity Building for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission|
|Friday, 30 September 2011 00:00|
UNDP in collaboration with UN Women and OHCHR facilitated a workshop on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights at Chengeta Lodge outside of Harare, for the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission's Commissioners from the 26th - 30th September 2011.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the event, UNDP Country Director Christine Umutoni noted that gender equality is central to human development and to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "In Zimbabwe, gender disparities contribute to the low status of women which in turn impedes on access, control and ownership of economic resources as well as low participation of women in decision-making processes,” said the Country Director. She added that this situation persists despite the promulgation of various laws, the signing, ratification and accession to several regional and international declarations, conventions and protocols aimed at creating an enabling environment for the attainment of equity and equality between men and women in Zimbabwe. Ms. Umutoni stressed that UNDP in Zimbabwe, is committed to working with the ZHRC in addressing some of these challenges because UNDP attaches great importance to gender equality and women's empowerment in all aspects of the UNDP work.
In her remarks the UN Women Country Programme Manager, Hodan Addou highlighted that the seminar provided an opportunity for the Commission to get an understanding of the core instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in international human rights law as they relate to women. Ms. Addou noted that while Zimbabwe has made significant strides in terms of adopting legislation that promotes women’s rights, however challenges also existed in the practical implementation of these laws. She said it was her hope that the support provided to the ZHRC was not a once off occurrence but the beginning of a long term partnership.
In a rich workshop agenda, the Commissioners were trained on relevant gender concepts and an overview of the legal frameworks on gender equality that is relevant to the human rights of women in Zimbabwe. Civil society organizations were invited to the workshop to add another dimension to the training. The organizations presented challenges and opportunities related to gender equality and the human rights of women in Zimbabwe. The agenda allowed an opportunity for dialogue among the commissioners, facilitators and other participants with a range of work in the field of gender equality and the human rights of women. Special training was also focused on additional instruments, frameworks, mechanisms and strategies relevant to gender equality and the human rights of women.
The outcome of the workshop was an increased awareness of the normative principles of Gender Equality among the Commissioners in preparation for their role in promoting awareness of and respect for human rights of women. The partnerships between the ZHRC and NGOs working on women’s rights and gender equality in Zimbabwe was enhancing through pledges of support in the form of dialogue, training and monitoring the implementation of international instruments.
In his closing remarks, the chairman of ZHCR, Professor Reginald Austin, noted that the participating organizations were key in assisting the Commission in developing a strategy to mainstream the protection of women’s rights in Zimbabwe. The workshop objective was therefore achieved in that the ZHRC was trained and capacitated to address women’s human rights within its mandate, the professor said.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) was established in February 2009. ZHRC function is to promote awareness of and respect for human rights and freedoms at all levels of the Zimbabwean society. UNDP and its partners noted that as the ZHRC waits for its mandate it is imperative to support capacity building initiatives aimed at strengthening skills and knowledge on the role of national human rights institutions.
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