Gender Based Violence is dis-empowering women

Gender Based Violence is dis-empowering women

Date: November 29, 2017
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Gender Based Violence is dis-empowering women

By Priscilla Maposa

Harare, 24 November: Monica* woke up to a loud bang on the bedroom door. Still feeling sleepy, she groped for the handle in the dark and hastily unlocked the door, fearing the wrath of her husband. Before she could pave way for him, her husband shoved her aside, got in the house and immediately slapped her.Monica tried to bolt through the door, but she slipped and fell on her back. Obviously angered by her intention to flee, her husband began to pummel her and had to be restrained by their 16-year old son, who had been woken by her mother’s piercing screams.

Monica is among hundreds of women in Zimbabwe who endure the most of gender based violence as the country battles with rising cases of this social vice.

Gender Based Violence (GBV) is undoubtedly one of the most widespread form of human rights abuses that have broken souls, crashed dreams, throwing thousands of women in social, economic, and political quagmire. In Southern Africa region GBV remains a major concern and a barrier to women’s active participation, development, and empowerment across all facets.

 As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating Sixteen Days of Activism on Violence Against Women and Children the vice remains the most pervasive yet the least ‘recognised; human rights abuse in most countries, where most communities still uphold patriarchal norms at the expense of legislative laws.This has impacted negatively on power relations between men and women, shrinking women’s spaces in the economic, social, and political arenas.

In the home, women’s negotiation skills are wilted, and they are not able to engage for fear of abuse. In society in general, victims of gender based violence go into a cocoon, lose self-esteem resulting in low participation in community activities.

Equally tragic is that the political space has not given them any joy either as both physical and sexual violence have taken centre stage in elections for political offices that have been held in some SADC countries.

Prevalence studies conducted by Gender Links in six Southern African countries show that 86% of women in Lesotho, 72% of women in Zambia, 68% of women in Zimbabwe, 67% of women in Botswana, 50% of women in South Africa’s Gauteng, Western Cape, Kwa Zulu-Natal, and Limpopo provinces and 24% of women in Mauritius have experienced GBV over their lifetime.

A higher proportion of women reported experiencing violence than men admitted to perpetrating violence in all six countries.

Despite the growing concern over the problem, it appears all hope is not lost as several initiatives are being mooted to raise awareness on the dangers of GBV, while looking at ways to empower victims.

One such initiative is the Gender Link’s entrepreneurial project Sunrise Campaign that is being carried out in 10 countries in the SADC region.

The pilot project that initially targeted 1300 survivors of gender violence in 10 SADC countries- Zimbabwe included- who, with the support of 100 Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government, is expected to grow in leaps and bounds as Gender Links tries to break the cycle of gender based violence through empowering women. The programme which started in 2013 and will continue running, albeit with new initiatives, has brought smiles to hundreds of survivors of GBV.

In Zimbabwe, despite the enactment of several gender responsive laws and policies such as the Domestic Violence Act of 2007, women and girls of Zimbabwe are victims in 90 percent of reported gender based violence cases. Research also shows that a proportion of 50% women and 57% men are aware of the domestic violence legislation in the country.

Dubbed by many as “the school of healing” for GBV survivors, the entrepreneurship programme in Zimbabwe has helped victims redeem their self-esteem; assist them to become economically independent, while teaching them several life skills initiatives.

While most of its beneficiaries still bear physical scars following years of being brutalised, the majority say they are emotionally healed and can fend for themselves and their children.


  • 145 survivors of GBV in 10 councils in Zimbabwe trained as entrepreneurs.
  • 92% grew their businesses in some way86% added new products, 79% found new markets and 67% opened a bank account
  • 98% completed a business plan and 96% followed through on the plan
  • The average increase in income per month for Zimbabwe is US$144 (R1731) from US$51. (R614) at the beginning of the project.
  • 91% of participants said they now experience less or much less GBV, whilst 3% still experienced the same levels of GBV; 6% of the beneficiaries experienced more or much more GBV. Overall, the relationship control index increased by two percentage points to 54%.

There is need for SADC to continue coming up with innovative ways to reduce the levels of GBV in the region and in respective countries. However, any good practices aimed at reducing GBV need to be replicated many times over for the battle on GBV to be won, community by community and country by country.

Monica* Not her real name

Priscilla Maposa, GL Zimbabwe Country Manager . This article is part of GL News and Blogs 16 Days of Activism series.

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