27 November 2018
Commissioner Margret Mukahanana-Sangarwe
ZIMBABWE Gender Commission has joined the rest of the world in commemorating the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
The local commemorations were held under the theme ‘Creating Zero Tolerance To Sexual Harassment In The Workplace”.
Internationally, the 28th anniversary of the commemorations and are run the theme ‘Gender Based Violence In The World Of Work’ from the November 25 to December 10.
Speaking at the press conference in Harare on Monday, Zimbabwe Gender Commission chairperson, Commissioner Margret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said:
“The commission will visit all 10 provinces in the country in a programme to engage both the public and private sectors to spread the message against sexual harassment at the work place.
“Sexual harassment affects many women and is one of such forms of gender based violence at the work place.
“Sexual harassment refers to any sex-based behaviour that is unwelcome to the recipient made by a person who knows, or reasonably should know, that such attention is unwanted.
“Sexual harassment includes sexually oriented conduct that interferes with an employee’s job performance and create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment committed either on or off work premises,” said Comm Mukahanana-Sangarwe.
She also noted that they have made great strides in fighting gender based violence.
“Gender sensitive legislation and policies have been developed including the Domestic Violence Act and the Anti-Domestic Violence Council.
“Zimbabwe has also ratified various international and regional instruments such as Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development (SADC-PGD).
“While all these progressive steps are indeed commendable, it is imperative to note that Zimbabwe has not yet reached where the country should be in terms of gender quality.
“Gender based violence in general and sexual harassment in particular continue to wreak havoc in our communities and at our work places and fly in the face of gender quality,” said Comm Mukahanana-Sangarwe.
“The commission note that there is increase in allegations of sexual harassment at various places and we are currently investigating cases of sexual harassment in the work place and we believe that many people especially women suffer in silence from the scourge.
“While the commission is pleased with the fact that victims of sexual harassment have started to speak out, we know that this is just a tip on an iceberg.
“Sexual harassment affects not only women but men as well. It has negative effects on the working environment by way of creating unnecessary compromised professional relationship.
“It also affects the health of victims as many usually suffer from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder among other illnesses.
“Victims of sexual harassment are also affected psychologically, as their confidence and morale gets eroded.”
The commission is encouraging public and private institutions to put in place and maintain a comprehensive policy to deal with gender based violence.