Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Where are the women?

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Women have always played a critical role during times of conflict. Women had the power to influence their men’s behavior during war either by cheering them on through singing and dancing to militant songs, or they could appeal to the conscience of men at war by singing songs of peace and non- violence.

In times of conflict, often it is the women and children who suffer the most. It is they that bear the brunt of sourcing scarce basic commodities; taking care of the sick and in the middle of it all, are often sexually violated. Recognition of this vulnerability in times of conflict then forms the driving force that motivates women to agitate for peace.

Conflict, in simple terms, may be described as the relationship between two or more parties who have or who think they have incompatible goals.

Currently in Zimbabwe a lot of conflicts are taking place all at once and women and children are caught in the cross-fire. The clashes between the two main political parties have resulted in a lot of beatings, abductions, rape and inhuman torture. In the post-election period there continues to be reports of women who are still being held captive and raped in militia camps. Meanwhile the leadership deadlock continues. It seems the only hope for a lot of Zimbabweans hinges on the talks. However, even that is looking less and less hopeful; already shrouded in a lot of skepticism and having already missed the deadline. And . . . only about two women are present at those talks.

Conflict can only be resolved after careful mapping of all the concerned stakeholders. Representatives from all the groups of relevant stakeholders must be allowed the opportunity to come together for dialogue, where everyone’s concerns are tabled and discussed. Oftentimes it is the absence of dialogue that results in a lot of misunderstanding, suspicion and differences in perception simply because the one side does not know what the other thinks or feels.

In this context, a new member from the women’s movement has been born with the view to re-establish the crucial role that women have traditionally played in resolving conflict. Aptly named Envision Zimbabwe Women’s Trust, the organization, spearheaded by Fay Chung and Trudy Stevenson among others, is driven by the change they would like to see.

Among the Trust’s objectives is the need to agitate for accountability through seeking dialogue with existing power structures in order to address the various challenges affecting Zimbabweans, especially women. The group is also driven by a desire to bring perpetrators of violence to justice.

Envision Zimbabwe will be central in the process of conflict transformation through playing the intermediary role of presenting issues on the ground to relevant authorities as well as brokering the space for dialogue among all relevant stakeholders that is crucial for the realization of resolution to conflict.

3 comments to “Where are the women?”

  1. Comment by Global Voices Online » Zimbabwe: Where are the women?:

    [...] writes about the role of women in conflict situations. Looking at Zimbabwe crisis, she asks, “Where are the women?” Posted by Ndesanjo Macha  Print Version Share [...]

  2. Comment by Big Issues Of The Day » Blog Archive » Blogging Roundup 14th August 2008 - - 15 August 2008:

    [...] Kubatana Net [...]

  3. Comment by moses:

    it is with great pleasure to note that they are a group of people willing to work together with the zimbabweans to restore the rule of law in our country. i would not like to sound discouraging but to let you know that after walking the same road with my colleagues which are now the lte you should use unorthodox means for counter unorthodox paradigms in your quest and the quest for better zimbabwe lets work in hamony. that is stop finger pointing as this derail the healing and reconcialiation process