Connect with us

Support The NewsHawks


Convention on the elimination of all forms discrimination against women




THIS convention advocated for the total eradication of all forms of discrimination against women. The study also reviewed international convention in conjunction with the locally corresponding legislative framework in the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 2013.

Sub-section 6 makes it clear that the state has a duty to take reasonable legislative and others measures to promote the achievement of equality and to protect or advance people or a class of people who have been disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.

In this section, discrimination is permissible but unfair discrimination is not permissible. Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy, and the issue of equality and unfair discrimination is precisely dealt with by the Section 56 of the constitution of 2013.

Section 56 of the constitution says all persons are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefits of the law. The section further explicitly states that women and men have the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, religious, cultural and social spheres. In view of this, the study noted that the theology of Johanne Marange Apostolic Church (JMAC) does not accord women and children the same legal equality with those rights enjoyed by their male counterparts in JMAC.

These are some of the observations noted by this study.

In addition to these constitutional provisions, sub-Section 3 of the convention says everyone has the right not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner on the basis of nationality, race, colour, tribe, place of birth, ethnic or social origin, language, class, religious beliefs, political affiliation, opinion, custom, culture, sex, gender, marital status, age, pregnancy, disability, economic or social status and or whether one is born in or out of wedlock.

In accordance to sub-Section 4 of the convention, a person is considered to have been treated in a discriminatory manner if they are subjected directly or indirectly to a condition, restriction, or disability to which other people are not subjected or other people are accorded directly or indirectly. which they are not accorded. Sub Section 5 makes it clear that if a person is able to satisfy a court that she/he has been subjected to discrimination or one of the grounds listed in sub-Section 3 of the convention, there will be an automatic presumption that the discrimination is unfair.

The locus standi is then on the person responsible for the discrimination to show that the discrimination is not fair. The study noted with concern that, the legal provision both at the international fora and domestically does not help to curb discrimination of women and children in JMAC’s theology, which teaches that no member of its church shall enjoy secular rights.

JMAC teaches its congregants that its church is a way of life which regulates its congregants on how to behave socially, economically, politically and religiously. On equality, the church does not permit its congregants to seek legal recourse outside the church.

The theology disregards the secular courts and promotes internal settlement of disputes by the church elders. Additionally, discrimination is not a crime in Zimbabwe but unfair discrimination is what constitute a crime and that the affected person ought to prove before the court that indeed the discrimination was unfair.

These are some of the grey areas that were identified by this research which the research probed further as the study looked into the interface between Human Rights discourse and women and children rights in JMAC.

The 1993 Convention on the Elimination of Violence Against Women is sector specific, as it deals with rights of women emanating from violence against women. The convention noted women as the most vulnerable group of people as a result of sexual inequalities.

The convention noted that violence can be physical, psychological, sexual and cultural practices.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe enacted a number of legislations on gender-based violence but the effectiveness of these pieces of legislation in JMAC is yet to be evaluated given that JMAC is a closed society.

However, previous research on JMAC has shown that there is rampant violence on women in JAMC based on the reflection on JMAC’s theology, practices, rituals, teachings which has negative effects on the dignity of women. It was noted that, previous researches generalised their findings without identifying and demonstrating how the violence is being perpetuated in JMAC, including the theology of JMAC and the human rights discourse with special attention on violence against women.

The study also reviewed the 1995 Beijing Declaration whose aim was to remove all the obstacles on women. The same encouraged men to work towards women emancipation and empowerment.

In addition, the declaration encouraged the respect and recognition of diverse women capabilities and contextual realities, considering that there are women who are more vulnerable than others.

Furthermore, in the Beijing declaration, governments, states, civil society organisations and international communities have a role to play in supporting the emancipation and upliftment of women. This observation reflects on the status of women and children in African Independent Churches (AICs) who are more vulnerable than non-AIC members.

In other denominations like Pentecostal and mainline churches, women and children enjoy considerably equitable rights with their male counterparts. Of note to this research are the twelve key components of the Beijing declaration which give a global overview of the challenges that are being faced by women at a global scale.

Thus, it provides interstate challenges that are inhibiting on the rights of women. The following key points have been raised by the conference; persistent poverty on women, inadequate training and education, inequalities and inadequacy of healthcare on women, violence against women, women in conflict areas and foreign occupation, women and access to resources, inequality between women and men in decision-making at all levels, government to address women challenges, prioritisation of women rights, women and media in contrast to associating media to male voices, inequalities in the management of resources and the environment and discrimination of the girl child (Beijing Declaration:1995).

In light of the Beijing Declaration, JMAC theology falls short of addressing the plight of women and children.

About the writer: Matthew Mare is a Zimbabwean academic who holds two bachelor’s degrees, five master’s qualifications and a PhD. He is also doing another PhD and has 12 executive certificates in different fields. Professionally, he is a civil servant and also board member at the National Aids Council of Zimbabwe.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *