By Rutendo Singadi, Communications Intern, Hivos Southern Africa
In a world ridden with conflict and discord, International Day of Peace serves as a powerful reminder of our hope for harmony and a peaceful world. Every year on September 21, the world connects in celebration and reflection on the importance of fostering peace – both within ourselves and in the world around us. On this day, individuals, communities, and nations are urged to rise above divisions and work towards a more peaceful and inclusive future.
This year’s Day of Peace falls a month after Zimbabwe’s Harmonized Elections. Nana Zulu, regional director for Hivos in Southern Africa, previously wrote about the challenges women in politics are facing – before concerns about election results were raised. Her point, nevertheless, remains valid. In the National Assembly, only 22 women out 210 were elected as representatives in Parliament. These numbers do not reflect well.
Our work with the Women and Youth Empowerment program is aimed at building up women leaders, giving them the confidence to run for political office, share their ideas and be heard. That cannot be realized without peace.
If we want to achieve any progress at all, violence against women and girls must be stopped. A total respect of human rights – with a focus on women and girls – will give us the opportunity to make a bigger difference, inspire more marginalized groups to stand up, and ultimately, become a better society.
Promoting dialogue and women’s participation
International Peace Day provides an opportune moment to engage in constructive conversations with individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. By listening, seeking common ground, and respecting each other’s opinions, we can bridge divides and promote empathy. It is our hope that with meaningful dialogue, can we begin to see more women taking up space at all levels of leadership.
As we dialogue, we may begin to understand how violence hinders women and various other marginalized groups from active participation in society. This day serves as a reminder of the consequences of our actions – how the lack of promotion of peace deprives women of their freedom to expression.
Spreading peaceful actions
This year’s theme – Actions for Peace: Our Ambition for the #GlobalGoals – also highlights how important our actions are in recognizing individual and collective responsibility to foster peace. In respecting the experiences of all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, we can create an violence-free world.
Just before the August 2023 elections, we held a training of women leaders across Zimbabwe. From this, we learned of the courage of women leaders across the various political parties to step up amidst the various challenges faced. Our actions are not only to empower women, but to also provide a safe and peaceful environment.