Long Essays

This is a collection of Reasearch Papers done by Upgraders.

Papers List

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Law reform: Whose responsibility? Law reform: Whose responsibility?

This article looks at the law reform process and critically examines the efforts made so far towards marriage law reform (substance and process) in Zimbabwe with special focus on the efforts made by the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA), a non-governmental organization whose aim is to improve the status of women in Zimbabwe. Insight into the problems necessitating law reform is gained and obstacles that are responsible for the reluctance to reform the marriage laws unearthed. An effort has been made to understand the critical stages in effecting law reform in the Zimbabwean situation and to identify the actors involved, especially in reforming laws that are deemed to be discriminatory against women. Different researchers and writers from as early as 1980 have recommended that family laws, particularly marriage laws, be reformed in order for the status of women to be improved and for gender equality to be achieved. Interest in this topic has arisen from witnessing daily the problems that women face as a result of the current marriage laws. Furthermore, because the marriage law reform process has not yet been documented by ZWLA, important experiences might be lost if they are not recorded. ZWLA’s experiences form the basis of the paper and it is hoped that the lessons learned from these experiences will assist in future endeavours to reform other problematic laws. The article shows that law reform is a long process which should involve all concerned actors, given that the net effect is to change people’s way of life.

By Linda Kalenga

The dilemmas of an African woman politician at the crossroads: law, reality and patriarchy The dilemmas of an African woman politician at the crossroads: law, reality and patriarchy

The public struggle by Ugandan women for recognition and participation in the political affairs of the country began in earnest in the 1940s with the formation of the Uganda Council of Women which first battled against unjust laws and later began the agitation for, among other things, increased participation of women in national politics (Tamale,1999:10). However, the women’s movement while still in its nascent stages was affected by the turbulent political events in Uganda, particularly the banning of non-government organizations during the 1970s, but survived to grow into the diversity of civic organizations that operate in Uganda today.1 At the international level the long-cherished principles of freedom and equality enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were formally restated in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

By Rebecca Kadaga

Underplaying women’s sexuality to control women– the case of polygyny Underplaying women’s sexuality to control women– the case of polygyny

This essay is an analysis of how women’s sexuality is played out in polygynous unions by showing that women are not actors, nor are they decision-makers over their bodies and sexuality. The analysis is based on research I carried out for the Women’s Law Diploma, (Nzira, 1995) and uses the sexual and rights framework as defined by the women’s coalition to the Cairo and Beijing conferences as well as the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to show how the Zimbabwe law discriminates against women in polygynous unions, as well as the impact of the institution in the spread of HIV/AIDS. As feminists have shown that women’s bodies are sites for male dominance, the purpose of the essay is to call on gender activists and/or feminists to bring the issue of women’s sexuality to the fore otherwise talking about women’s empowerment will remain an academic exercise as men will continue to control women’s sexuality as a means of keeping women down.

By Tsitsi Masenda-Nzira

Women’s access to credit: Is micro-finance an answer? Women’s access to credit: Is micro-finance an answer?

This article is a continuation of my previous dissertation presented for fulfillment of the Post-graduate Diploma in Women’s Law course pursued in 2000. In the research, I did a comparative study of the Co-operative and Rural Development Bank (CRDB) before and after its privatization in 1996 in relation to women and access to credit. The aim was to analyze the effect of structural adjustment programmes which led to privatization of many public companies, the Co-operative and Rural Development Bank included.

By Lucia Gamuyakairo

Breaking the silence on menstruation in Zimbabwe: Where does the female prisoner stand? Breaking the silence on menstruation in Zimbabwe: Where does the female prisoner stand?

Menstruation is a normal female function. It occurs every 21 to 28 days for three to five days. Although women are homogeneous in the sense that they all experience menstruation between the ages of about eleven and 50 years, it affects individual women differently. There are variations in both the duration and density of the flow, among others. And so while one woman menstruates for two days, it can last for as long as five days in another woman. Even where two women menstruate for the same number of days, one woman’s flow may be heavier.

By Jill Makarati

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