IPS – Q&A: The Security of a Nation Is Its Women - Interview with Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

IPS – Q&A: The Security of a Nation Is Its Women | Inter Press Service

Interview with Nvyaradzayi Gumbonzavanda, one of the candidates for the new Executive Director at UN Women, to replace Michelle Bachelet.  You can read the whole article at the link above.


GENEVA, May 7 2013 (IPS) - Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a human rights lawyer and the general secretary of the global rights network World YWCA, knows what it is like to struggle against poverty and violence: she herself comes from a poor family in Magaya village in Murewa district, which lies northeast of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.
But Gumbonzvanda has travelled a long way from her home. And she has spent much of her life trying to change the lives of women who were not as fortunate as she was.
And now she is a candidate for the executive director position at United Nations Women – a post formerly held by Chile’s ex-president Michelle Bachelet, who resigned in March.
In an interview with IPS at her offices in Geneva, Switzerland, Gumbonzvanda said that economic growth and development have to address “opportunities for creating wealth at household level, but also structural issues such as the violence and inequality that women continue to experience almost on a daily basis.”
She applauded development on the African continent, while stressing that further economic and social empowerment was needed to change the lives of women.
“I see women going forward in various areas and sectors in all African countries, who are able to shape a new narrative. We need economic and social empowerment – it is not enough to have political empowerment,” she said.
Excerpts of the interview follow:
Q: Let us start with the growing rates of rape and domestic violence against women. How grave is this problem and is it universal?
A:  I think this is one of the biggest issues facing women and girls in the world today. I see the violence against women as a manifestation of inequalities, disempowerment and exclusion…
Social disempowerment, the fact that women are seen as second-class citizens who do not often have a voice or rights about their own bodies; the painful realities of poverty and violence against women; and child trafficking for sexual exploitative work are all burning issues that need to be addressed.
What is important is that we work on preventing violence against women, including domestic violence, violence in conflict (situations) and sexual abuse. The prevention part is critical, (and it should be) followed by robust policies in different social sectors within countries and at the international level.
Q: Over the last 30 years there have been tremendous changes in the global economy and culture – largely due to the internet and globalisation. What impact has this had on women?
A:  I think there are a couple of things that happened in the last 30 years. I was in Beijing (in 1995) for the (World) Conference on Women and I would argue that there has been real international work on the international norms to do with women and human rights that is progressively good.
We now have conventions and treaties at an international level, and even at regional level, like the Maputo Plan of Action for Women (on reproductive and sexual health rights).
Even at the normative level, we see quite a lot of work and some good progress. However, whether an economic model can address the structural issues that contribute to violence against women still needs to be resolved.  .....

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