SADC Gender Protocol 2015: Zimbabwe

The 2015 Zimbabwe SADC Gender Barometer country report reflects on the country's progress towards advancing gender equality, women's rights and women's empowerment. This occurred as Zimbabwean gender activists also took stock of opportunities and challenges around meeting the country's 2015 targets linked to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development (SADC Gender Protocol).

This country report also comes as countries undertake the global review of achievements towards implementing the strategies and actions outlined in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, which emerged from the Fourth World Conference on Women. The year 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action.

Zimbabwean leaders signed the SADC Gender Protocol in 2008 and ratified it in 2009. Zimbabwe was the second country after Namibia to ratify the regional instrument for the advancement of women. The country's 2013 SADC Gender Barometer report marked a significant shift in the country's normative framework, following the adoption of a new constitution that contains strong gender equality, women's rights and women's empowerment provisions.

While it shifted the legal goalposts significantly for advancing gender equality and women's rights, the new Constitution of Zimbabwe's true test as a foundation for changing the lived realities of women and girls began in 2014. This is when the country's lawmakers began a process to align more than 200 laws, as well as create new laws and review policies to ensure compliance, with the articles and provisions of the Constitution. However, there is no strong guarantee that the alignment process will lead to the domestication of all laws and policies in accordance with the Constitution's gender equality and women's rights provisions.

Thus the 2015 Zimbabwe SADC Gender Barometer has two overarching purposes. First it begins the countdown to 2015 and progress towards the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol. It also signposts the start of monitoring the political commitment to building on the foundation prepared by the Constitution for the development of constitutionalism to gender equality and women's rights in Zimbabwe.

The Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance uses two measures to rate each SADC state's performance towards meeting the 28 targets: the SADC Gender and Development Index (SGDI), introduced in the 2011 regional barometer, and the complementary Citizen Score Card (CSC), which the Alliance has been running for three years.