Amy S. Tsanga


The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) comprehensively outlines the international standards on the rights of women that are to be pursued by State Parties to the Convention. Adopted by the General Assembly in 1979, it entered into force in 1981 and set the scene for a comprehensive approach to the human rights of women by State Parties that have ratified the Convention. The underlying spirit of the Convention is that discrimination against women violates principles of equality and respect for human dignity and presents obstacles to the advancement of women in the political, social, economic, and cultural spheres. The Convention recognizes in its preamble that the complete development of any country and the furtherance of world peace requires the maximum participation of women on equal terms with men in all fields. Zimbabwe ratified the Women's Convention on the 13th of May 1991 without reservations, thereby agreeing to pursue active measures to eliminate discrimination against women by both State and non-state actors. The protection of human rights at the national level is fashioned by the normative and institutional frameworks that exist in a particular country. The major thrust of this paper is to examine the progress, as well as the gaps, from a legislative viewpoint in advancing the rights of women in Zimbabwe. A country-specific analysis allows for a clear understanding of the nature of the constitutional and legal framework under which human rights instruments are expected to materialize. In Zimbabwe the Constitution is the highest law of the land and any law inconsistent with the Constitution is void to the extent of that inconsistency. As such, under the Constitution, international instruments do not automatically form part of the law unless approved by Parliament or have been incorporated into the law by an Act of Parliament. The Constitution therefore provides the barometer with which to measure all other laws in the country.

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