“From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All.”
1. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) joins the nation of Zimbabwe and the International Community in commemorating the16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The 16 days of Activism campaign is held from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day) every year.
2. This year the 16 days of Activism is running under the theme, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”. This theme recognizes the dire situation for millions of girls and boys and young women and men whose universal human right to education is negatively impacted on daily or cut short due to violence, lack of resources and discrimination among other factors.
3. This year’s campaign is the 24th year of the Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, presenting the opportunity and providing an occasion for Government and all other actors to renew their commitment towards improving the plight of women and girls and to consolidate efforts to end gender-based violence.
4. This year, 2015 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive roadmap to gender equality.
5. The theme for this year, 2015, reiterates and focuses on the right to education, which is an entitlement of every human being and also recognized by the supreme law of our land, the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Our Constitution guarantees equality between men and women, boys and girls in all spheres. It expressly stipulates in section 75 that“Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to a basic state-funded education, including adult basic education…” and in section 81(1) (f) which states that, “Every child that is to say every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years, has the right to education.”
6. Acquiring an education opens windows that may have remained shut for citizens of Zimbabwe. However, the ZHRC notes with concern, the high levels of gender – based violence in the country which continue to prevent children, especially girls, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups from accessing safe, inclusive quality education. Of further concern to the ZHRC is the prevalence of girl child school drop-outs as confirmed in the findings of the Baseline Survey on Perceptions, Attitudes and Understanding of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, which the ZHRC conducted in 2014.
7. Therefore, while the ZHRC applauds and notes the significant progress Zimbabwe has made towards making education accessible to all, it calls upon the State to take measures to ensure that schools are a safe environment for all children by ensuring that all forms of violence, including sexual violation and exploitation of girls, are eliminated. The ZHRC also calls upon the Government through the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to expedite the alignment to the Constitution of all pieces of legislation concerning women and girls so as to advance their right to education in all educational spheres and that of all people in Zimbabwe, particularly children. The right to education must be enjoyed a context where everyone is free from all forms of violence from public or private sources as guaranteed by section 52(a) of our Constitution.
8. The ZHRC pledges to work with government and all other stakeholders in the protection, promotion and enforcement of human rights especially for the marginalized and vulnerable including women and girls. In that regard, the ZHRC is in the process of operationalizing the Thematic Working Group (TWG) on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights so as to advance gender issues and women’s rights.