Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women Working in the Arts and Culture Sector
- To empower women economically and socially while transforming them into innovative economic players in all facets of the economy including the creative sector.
- To raise awareness amongst women artists and cultural practitioners in relation to the National Gender Policy and the Domestic Violence Act.
The issue of gender equality in Zimbabwe is being addressed through the Gender Policy with the Domestic Violence Act becoming a vital supportive piece of legislation. Issues of gender equity, disparity and equality can be traced to the historical background that ascribed male domination as the norm since time immemorial. Women for a long period of time played second-fiddle to their male counterparts. The Gender Policy becomes particularly important in that women play an important role in cultural expressions. They are critical in inculcating primary cultural expression values and beliefs to children. Women through socialization processes play a fundamental role in moulding children – instilling in them ethics that shape acceptable personality values as dictated by culture, values and beliefs as components of the national philosophy. Occupying such a critical position in society, women therefore are the front-runners in the teaching of cultural expressions. As cardinal pillars in family life, it is through women that children are introduced to socially acceptable behaviour that finds traction in cultural expressions from a very young age. As primary players in the socialization process, women therefore need to be empowered economically and socially so that they become strong agents for social development that is imbued with cultural expressions as well. Despite their central role in society’s development, women are faced with a plethora of challenges spanning the economic and social spheres in which they are sometimes treated as second-class citizens. This happens notwithstanding the multitude of roles that women play in the socio-economic life of any community. Zimbabwe’s Gender Policy and the Domestic Violence Act are two pieces of legisla
: Constituting 52% of the State Party’s population, women represent a constituent of people in dire need of affirmative action in all facets of life, be it social, economic and even political. The imbalance in professional opportunities that women were subjected to also affected the creative sector. Furthermore, the arts and culture sector for decades was viewed by the general population as a haven for “failures” in life, an area for people with loose morals. No sane woman therefore was expected to join the sector, patriarchal in nature and populated by “non-conformist” people. All these negative views were held against the sector’s positive pivotal contribution to cultural expressions in general and the potential to grow national economies. The realization by the State Party of the sector’s potential contribution to the economy and the value chain that such genres as music creates, jolted government into action, hence the crafting of the Gender Policy whose tentacles spread to the creative sector as well.
Following years of marginalization and enduring a second class status, women through the Gender Policy are now competing with their male counterparts at the same level, enjoying equal opportunities in any aspect of life. As the majority in the country women are now actively participating in arts and cultural activities boosting the nation’s cultural expressions. Favourite areas that they concentrate on include fashion creation, basketry (weaving), cosmetics (make-up), dance, acting, music, beadwork, sculpting and many others including those that used to be male-dominated. Through the Gender Policy and the Domestic Violence Act, gender equality and equity and women’s rights in whatever facet of life including economic spheres like the creative sector have given birth to massive areas for advocacy work designed to facilitate the realization of women’s full potential in those areas. Admittedly owing to their “privileged” status in what used to be male-dominated professions in the ar
- The Gender Policy is designed to eradicate gender-based exploitation, discrimination, unfair treatment of women and enhance women socio-economic empowerment in all economic facets. The policy advocates for men and women to compete on equal footing with success being determined by individual talent as opposed to sex. Success in the creative sector is determined by both innate talent and skills acquired, hence the need to level the playing field being cognisant of the disparities spawned by inequalities based on gender. Chiefly, the measure is also intended to attain the following in respect of the creative sector:
- Availing equal opportunities to both women and men in the creative industry locally, nationally, regionally and internationally.
- Provision of both financial and material resources to all actors in the arts and culture sector. Women and men must enjoy equal access to financial and material resources as and when they require them.
- Identification, nurturing, marketing and promotion of artistic talent to the level of full actualization for both sexes without prejudice.
- Respecting cultural diversity in communities, country, region and international stage irrespective of the gender aspect.
- Women’s rights are human rights, respecting human rights in totality in all aspects of the arts and culture.
Besides an allocation from Treasury, women’s issues receive financial and material support from the donor community. Development organisations, local, regional and international ones always have a component on women’s issues under their funding regimes. Such funding opportunities bolster the State Party’s allocation to the responsible Ministry. Civil society organisations in their numbers are seized with women’s issues, particularly empowerment programmes and activities, issues to do with reproductive health, HIV and Awareness campaigns, domestic violence, education and training (Women’s University in Africa domiciled in Zimbabwe is a key example). The efforts of all these organisations when combined add up to substantial funding opportunities for women’s issues. The funding also covers issues to do with cultural expressions. As a result, the number of women in the arts and culture sector increased significantly covering women with diverse backgrounds. The State Party’s funding for women in arts and culture is availed to all Ministries that have a component on women issues, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Small Scale and Mediums Enterprises and the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment. The Ministries’ combined allocations for women’s issues, including the allocation for the creative sector add up to substantial funding.