Oppah Muchinguri upbeat about women missions

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DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has hailed the participation of Zimbabwean women in  peacekeeping missions and pledged to continue supporting their involvement in security and conflict management.
Muchinguri-Kashiri was speaking during a high-level virtual session commemorating the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325) by African Women Leaders Network (Awln) Zimbabwe last Friday.

The Defence minister, who is also the national chairperson for the ruling Zanu PF, said the number of Zimbabwean women joining peacekeeping missions was on the increase.

“Regarding women’s participation in Peace and Security, according to the recommendation by the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Zimbabwe has recorded a 20 percent female representation increase in peacekeeping missions,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.

“This is commendable given that from 2015 to date, 18 Zimbabwe National Army female officers and 15 Air Force of Zimbabwe female officers have participated in peace support operations in different countries giving a
total of 33 peacekeeping officers.” She said the number of women assuming senior positions in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces had increased markedly since Shylet Moyo was appointed the first female Brigadier In
2013, five years before MuchinguriKashiri became Defence minister.

The minister added that other security sector units like the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Prisons and Correctional Services had complemented the efforts of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces by appointing
female Deputy Commissioners at every level.

“The State has taken the first step in ensuring active participation by women in the political sphere
by reserving 60 seats for women in Parliament. The State has also established independent institutions that
support constitutional democracy like the Gender Commission whose main mandate is monitoring gender equality issues,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri.

Despite the notable strides, Muchinguri-Kashiri conceded that the ratio of women to men leaders was still
insignificant to influence gender-sensitive decision making and deal effectively with the long-term effects of gender-blind socialisations.

“ T h e r e is obviously a need for Zimbabwe’s institutions and thinking to move towards the 50-50 agenda. Focus on
peace building issues has also become a common feature of the Zimbabwe education system.

“In all our universities and security service training institutions, peace building, human rights awareness
and governance issues form a compulsory component of the educational and training curriculum,”
she said.

Muchinguri-Kashiri emphasised the need for the government to continue safeguarding women through
enforcement of such laws as the Domestic Violence Act and capacitating institutions like the Gender Commission.

“Violence against women has always been outlawed but now the prohibition has been elevated to a
constitutional Bill of Rights. The government now has a greater responsibility to ensure that women are
protected from violence through appropriate laws.

“The State has also established independent institutions that support constitutional democracy like
the Gender Commission whose main mandate is monitoring gender equality issues,” she said.

UN Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe, Maria Ribeiro, who also addressed the same conference, concurred with Muchinguri-Kashiri on the urgent need to ramp up women inclusion.

“At the Sadc level, high ranking women in the security sectors of Sadc member states remain low with few
women leading key negotiation and mediation processes. At the grassroots level, women and youth have limited effective spaces and opportunities to contribute towards peace building processes at national level with states,” Ribeiro said.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security, which was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on October 31, 2000, creates a platform for promoting
women peace builders in Zimbabwe as well as the implementation of the UN resolution within the SADC Region.

The UN resolution was adopted 20 years ago with the aim of affirming the contributions and critical role by women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, among other issues.

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