Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls
During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV), we the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, join the global campaign to advocate for the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. As a premier natural resources’ governance organisation, we need to see women in resource rich areas reclaiming their power and voice by participating in the management of these resources.
It is critical to acknowledge that combating gender-based violence necessitates collaborative action, as reflected in this year’s global theme UNITE! Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls, which calls for joint action. We, therefore, call for communities to make deliberate integrated efforts to amplify the voice of women and girls in natural resource management.
By extension, these efforts would lead to the reduction of GBV against women and girls which thrives by silencing, and marginalising women through condemning, trivialising, and omitting them from any development centred activities. As a result, women continue to face violence as secondary citizens in economic, political, and social spheres of life.
With this situation in mind, we note that resource extraction practices, such as mining and deforestation, lead to increased violence against women while the harmful effects of climate change, such as natural disasters and environmental degradation, disproportionately affect marginalized communities, especially women. Thus, we highlight the fact that women face violence on multiple fronts, increasing their vulnerability in general.
Considering this situation, we call upon communities to recognise the intersectionality of violence against women and the impact of climate change and resource extraction. As such, we re-iterate the need for a gendered approach to promoting responsible business investments, addressing climate change challenges, promoting service delivery and in allocating natural resources, including extractives.
We believe that making progress towards fighting GBV in the context of natural resources governance is crucial to tackling several of its root causes including climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Thus, we commend such milestones as the Millennium Declaration which recognizes violence against women as a development concern, highlighting the interconnectedness of gender equality and sustainable development as well as the Sustainable Development Goals which integrate the prevention of violence against women as a major imperative, emphasizing the need for comprehensive strategies to address this issue at all levels.
However, we are conscious of the fact that GBV is still major human rights issue around the world and will require global attention for years to come. Therefore, we continue to call upon the government of Zimbabwe to go a step further and develop gender sensitive policies that will help reduce the GBV on both women and girls brought about by challenges related to the extraction of resources and climate change.
In this regard, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association will amplify women’s voices during the 16 Days of Activism and beyond through the following activities:
• Documenting the stories of women’s experiences in the natural resources sector.
• Supporting women led movements through capacity building initiatives across the natural resources sector.
• Advocating and lobbying for the participation and inclusion of women in forums that discuss natural resource management in and around Zimbabwe.
• Providing technical support for women to be able to develop strategies that respond to shocks induced by natural resource extraction and climate change.
• Continuing to offer legal support for women.