Canada is committed to engaging Zimbabwean parliamentarians and other decision-makers on gender issues such as the alignment of marriage laws with the Constitutional Court ruling on the age of consent, Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Rene Cremonese has said.
Addressing delegates at the belated International Women’s day celebrations organised by Amnesty International and Shamwari yemwanasikana, Cremonese said his embassy had a group committed to advocate for menstrual hygiene, opponents of policies and attitudes which enable gender-based violence.
“Our group of He-for-She male diplomatic champions have pledged to work consistently to be advocates for menstrual hygiene, opponents of policies and attitudes which enable gender-based violence, supporters for the advancement of gender equality and campaigners for an end to child marriage. The Embassy continues to be committed to engaging parliamentarians and other decision-makers on gender issues such as the alignment of marriage laws with the Constitutional Court ruling on the age of consent,” he said.
He said girls should have equal opportunities with boys so as to ensure the dreams of the girl child is realised.
“It is in our interest personally, for our families and for our communities for men to step up and support gender equality if for no other reason than to ensure that our daughters’ dreams have the same chance of coming true as those of our sons,” he said.
Cremonese said men should be involved in menstrual hygiene so that no girl is unable to go to school because of the menstrual cycle.
“As a man, you have got to be really careful when you deal with these gender issues and not make it sound like you know what you are talking about. I have never had a menstrual cycle so I am not going to pretend I know anything about it beyond what I have read and what I have learned. I think is that it is a normal regular biological function and you have ways as a father and as teachers and people in society to support women so that normal biological function does not preclude them from what they can do.”
“When you lose 50% of the talents that the society can provide, you are not better off. The girls are unable to school because of the menstrual cycle, because culturally someone dictates that they need to stay home or because they do not have the money and the ability deal with the issues using reusable pads or menstrual cups. If those things are not available to them, you are setting them back and they are not going to be able to achieve their dreams and aspirations. It is important for men to step up and help because from every level of your life as a man things are better if you have gender equality. For me as a husband, having a wife who is an equal partner with me in my relationship makes that relationship better and makes the family more coherent,” he said.