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Nana Zulu talks about women in politics in Zimbabwe
Nana Zulu

Human Rights Day: Raising awareness around the devastating impacts of gender-based violence

By Nana Zulu (Regional Director Hivos Southern Africa)

The last few days have been a hive of activism, raising awareness around the devastating impacts of gender-based violence (GBV) and the needed actions to ensure its eradication. Key in ensuring this becomes a reality is addressing GBV and its debilitating impacts on women and girls. More so, in addressing gender inequality and unequal power relations which have resulted in prejudicial attitudes and perspectives, conservative narratives, negative social norms, structural exclusion and discriminatory laws and policies that further engrain GBV.

The culmination of the activism against GBV into the commemoration of human rights day highlights the central role of human rights; its recognition, protection and fulfillment. It reminds us to acknowledge and highlight the importance of human rights, the need to speak out against its violations and stand up for the recognition of the legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) that we are “all born free and equal in dignity.”

Dignity, freedom, and justice for all

This year’s theme ‘Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All’ challenges us to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion. Central to that is the need to protect everyone’s right to self-determination, ensuring bodily autonomy and integrity so that we all can have control of our bodies and health.

The theme and related activism are integral, at a time when we experience an erosion of women’s rights, an increased clamp-down on human rights defenders and the intersections of human rights and global challenges such as climate change and conflict.

As Hivos, the current setting drives us to remain resolute and bold in our activism and work in supporting frontrunners – be they activists, media, human rights defenders or creative artists to connect, amplify voices and counter discrimination and inequality. We continue to hold duty bearers to account and ensure that they move from rhetoric and unfulfilled commitments to action, to implement rights-based solutions and approaches oriented around inclusive, peaceful and just societies and respect for the rule of law.

As we commemorate this human rights day, may we all remember to – individually and collectively – take an activist role to stand up for human rights in all we do – in our homes, communities and countries.