Lack of information infringes women’s access to documentation.

Lack of information infringes women’s access to documentation.

By Florence Zirima

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Executive Secretary, Ms Delis Mazambani says women are facing challenges in accessing primary documents due to lack of access to information.

In an interview with this publication recently, Ms Mazambani said there is need to raise awareness on requirements for national registration.

“Women are facing challenges in accessing documentation for themselves and their children due to limited knowledge on documentation”, Ms Mazambani said.

She said some of the challenges faced by women in accessing primary documents include lack of cooperation by people who are supposed to act as witnesses when applying for birth certificates.

She highlighted the lack of information by women to acquire birth certificates for their children in their name.

“Some fathers refuse to acknowledge paternity and women usually hesitate to acquire a birth certificate for a child born out of wedlock in maiden name yet the Births and Deaths Registration Act [Chapter 5:02] allows it”, she said.

Ms Mazambani revealed the effects of non-documentation on women saying some undocumented women experience cases of gender- based violence from their husbands who get frustrated by failing to register children.

She added that women without documentation face stigmatization and are sometimes referred to using derogatory names such as “zvidhuura”.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission revealed the challenges faced by authorities in offering national registration services.

It unveiled that the outdated ICT gadgets which often break down is affecting the production of national documents.

Limited funding for mobile registration exercise is also affecting the authorities to offer a smooth documentation service to citizens.

Under the new Freedom of Information Act, every citizen has a right to access or to acquire information from any public institution.

The Act also enables women, youths and all vulnerable groups to participate in democracy, human rights and accountability as they can easily access information that contributes to monitoring of usage of public
resources.

Nyari Mashayamombe

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