Zimbabwe has made significant strides in gender equality but still lags behind on key indicators, according to the latest SADC Gender Protocol Barometer for the country.On a variety of indicators, Zimbabwe scored a 58 percent gender equity rate, below the regional average of 66 percent.
While the country remains below the regional average, the barometer says Zimbabwe has made progress largely through a raft of provisions in the new Constitution adopted last year.
The new Constitution has robust gender equality, and women's and children's rights clauses in line with provisions of the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development. Countries which scored high include the Seychelles (82 percent), South Africa (79), Mauritius (77), Namibia (75) and Lesotho (71).
At the launch of the SADC Gender Protocol Barometer 2013 in Harare yesterday, Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Oppah Muchinguri said; "This (is) clear testimony of the commitment of Government and its political leadership in realising gender equality and empowerment.
"I want to commend civil society organisations through the Sadc Gender Protocol Alliance for coming up with a system for monitoring the implementation of the Protocol by governments."
Minister Muchinguri said the findings on Zimbabwe provided an opportunity for the country to reflect on progress made and challenges encountered in meeting the 28 targets enunciated in the regional bloc's protocol.
Zimbabwe remained below the due to the widening gap between males and females in tertiary education, low participation of women in the formal economy and in political leadership, among other factors. Said gender activist Ms Virginia Muwanigwa: "Our challenge is not so much of good policies but implementation . . . We need to watch closely the implementation of women's policies."
The Sadc Gender Protocol Barometer, first published in 2009.