By Masline Mavudzi
Five ambassadors to Zimbabwe have been chosen to become champions for the HeForShe campaign initiative aimed at combating gender-based violence in society.
These include Brian Nichols (US),Toshiyuki Iwado (Japan), Rene Cremonese (Canada), Mphakama Mbete (South Africa) and Rungsung Masakui (India).
The ambassadors were chosen as key influencers on issues that are critical to gender-based violence in Zimbabwe and world at large.
In an interview with the Diplomat Magazine, US ambassador Nichols said, he had committed to implementing concrete actions towards gender-based violence in Zimbabwe.
“I am working with United States embassy in Zimbabwe to increase programming for women and support them in the act of equality and act of justice in all forms of life. I think these commitments now should include talking to people, traditional and religious leaders talking about the importance of men respecting women and that it is unacceptable to be violent towards women in any way. The media, your role here is critical so that there is more programming directed at men and telling the importance of supporting gender equality
“I believe women should have access to education. Having a chance to complete their education before becoming mothers so that they have access to employment all these things are incredibly important and they don’t require much resources. What it requires is spreading the word and men talking to man and listening to women. Today we heard voices of women that are often unheard including those with disabilities or HIV positive and those who are speaking need to be heard and given the resources to fully achieve their potential in society,” he said.
Ambassador Nichols applauded the Government of Zimbabwe for its inclusion of women in the cabinet and parliament.
“I think government involvement in combating gender equality is positive because there are a number of very talented women in the cabinet and in the parliament. The speaker of parliament helped inaugurate the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. So, I thought that was a very positive stance. However, I think we still need to do much more. My message to Zimbabwe is that men and women have equal rights and men and women are an integral part of the process in society’s fight against violence. Abuse of women is unacceptable as it is holding the society back,” he said.
Zimbabwe Gender Commission CEO Mrs Virginia Muwanigwa urged ambassadors to work with men who are influential to the society.
“HeForShe is a good initiative as long as it recognizes that the place that needs to be disrupted is the main stream because this is where, we have more man in leadership. So, I appreciate that ambassadors at that level have come forward and made a commitment to do what they can, as an individual and at an organizational level to transform our society into a more equal just society. I would encourage them to also work with those men in leadership whether it’s in the constitutional and legal affairs sector you name it. Let them work together so that we start getting more and more men to sign up to HeForShe campaign to actually change our social and gender relations,” she said.
HeForShe campaign was launched in 2014 at the United Nations by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and women global goodwill ambassador Emma Watson. The campaign provides a systematic approach and targets a platform on which men and boys can engage and become change agents towards the achievement of gender equality.