By Vumani Mthiyane
Most women and girls in rural areas are still marginalised due to lack of constitutional awareness and cultural practices.
Addressing stakeholders drawn from Gwanda and surrounding areas, The Watchman Trust in collaboration with Community Youth Development Trust conducted training on constitutional awareness after a realisation that marginalisation of women and girls is rife in rural communities.
“Many people, especially in rural areas, have learnt to live with their cultural values and traditions that violate their rights especially women, children, elderly and the disabled. Some are shunned away from opportunities since they are kept indoors for the rest of their lives,” said Mantate Mlotshwa, from International Republican Institute.
The Watchman Trust Chairperson Sean Naboth Chingono said they have embarked on awareness campaigns to educate communities on their constitutional rights.
“We want to do constitution awareness campaigns in May 2019 and this must be edutainment to target the whole community including young, elderly, disabled, young and the academia.
“Our objectives are to improve constitutional awareness at the community level, to strengthen the participatory civic education skills of provincial interagency facilities and to promote citizen participation and skills needed for active participation,” said Chingono.
He added they are targeting Gwanda and Plumtree districts due to some cultural practices that hinder women and girls to enjoy their constitutional rights.
One participant, Monitor Ncube pointed out that there are some cultural practices in the province which in violation of basic human rights.
“In Gwanda the Sothos still practice the Mtshwala Mtshwala, where cousins of a different sex can bed each other without any offence. In law, this practice is called incest.
“I also understand some traditional Kalanga people are still practising some cultural rites which are seen as an affront to the enjoyment of basic human rights especially for women,” Ncube claimed.
Some participants pointed out that most girls in the province are still denied their right to education as they are forced into marriage at an early age.
“The right to education is one the most common violated rights in rural areas because girl children are regarded as a source of income. Once a rural girl attains 12 years, she is considered as old enough to be a wife and is taken to a forced marriage by her parents,” said one of the participants.
Women were also urged to participate in the political sphere so they can fully represent their interests.
“Women are still shunning away from politics because they think that it is reserved for their male counterparts yet there is a constitutional provision that provides for a 50/50 presentation.
“On the other hand, disability comes in different forms but only the deaf and dumb are the most considered. For example, television news there is sign language for the deaf and dumb while the blind are not catered for,” said Ncube.