Creating Spaces for Human Rights Learning in Zimbabwe

With financial support from Sida, we are working together with the embassy of Sweden in Zimbabwe to implement an extensive human rights capacity development programme for government institutions, independent commissions, civil society organisations, independent research centres, academia, and traditional leadership.

The aim of the program is to contribute to enhanced enjoyment of constitutional rights in Zimbabwe. This involves legislation, policies, practices and decision-making being increasingly informed by international human rights standards and principles.

Through the Programme, we seek to approach human rights change from a long-term perspective. To achieve the overall objective, we undertake two main strategies. These are to:

  • To strengthen the capacities among participating institutions to  promote, respect, protect and fulfill human rights within their respective mandate;
  • To enhance the means and space for participating institutions to constructively engage with each other on different human rights issues.

To give a better insight into what the RWI programme in Zimbabwe entails, two participants from the professional training programmes on human rights and one RWI Zimbabwe team member share their experiences below:

Hellen Venganai (Personal photo)

Meet: Hellen Venganai

Hellen Venganai participated in a Professional Training Programme on the Equal Status and Human Rights of Women in 2018. Hellen explains how this training by RWI helped her in her work with the community-based organisation that she set up; Mambure Trust.

“We have now incorporated human rights teachings to teachers that we work with, in which we encourage them to promote the rights of girls in schools by practising non-discrimination,” says Venganai.

As part of the programme Venganai also visited Sweden, which she describes as a very valuable experience.

“In my other profession as a lecturer who teaches a course in Gender and Development, I find myself constantly sharing information about our field visits in Sweden with my students for a comparative analysis of the Zimbabwean situation regarding the status of women in politics, prisons, and in the workplace.”

“The foundation that we received about human rights in our initial training workshops equipped me with an appreciation of how child and women rights developed and fit within broader human rights”


Meet: Samuel Deme

Samuel Deme took part in one of RWI’s Professional Training Programmes on Human Rights in 2016. RWI’s training sharpened his understanding of human rights, which he can now use to measure the compliance of laws with international human rights.

Samuel Deme (Personal photo)

Before the training, I had limited understanding of human rights. Having interacted with various human rights experts, I am now able to better discharge my duties from an informed perspective,”

And Deme continues;

As a result of the training, I was able to appreciate emerging issues of human rights like the relationship between human rights and business. I also gained better understanding of the human rights provisions in Zimbabwe’s Constitution having shared analysis of such provisions with human rights experts.”

The laws which I draft are now richer in human rights content. In turn, this shapes Zimbabwe’s national human rights jurisprudence.”


Isis Sartori Reis

Meet: Isis Sartori Reis

Isis Sartori Reis is a Junior Programme Officer for the Zimbabwe team and works with RWI’s capacity development projects, with a focus on anti-corruption and human rights, and the sustainable development goals.

She joined RWI three years ago and has worked in the Zimbabwe team for two and a half years now. Sartori Reis says that working against corruption and for human rights go hand in hand for her, because corruption and human rights violations also often occur together.

Working with the cross-sectoral professional training programmes is one of her favourite projects to work with.

I think it is such a wonderful project because we get to create spaces for interaction among stakeholders that perhaps would not meet otherwise.”

One way Sartori Reis and the rest RWI’s Zimbabwe team stay in touch with the participants in the programmes or trainings by inviting them to the annual National Symposium that is organised with academic partner institutions each year.

This is a great opportunity for the participants, who are mostly practitioners, to exchange knowledge with each other and with the researchers from academic institutions.

The professional training programmes, and especially its participants, have taught Sartori Reis a lot and always makes her “excited to participate in the exchange of ideas!” The participants usually come from a variety of different sectors and work on human rights in different ways. All these perspectives and the participants’ innovative action plans show new and concrete ways to address human rights issues.

 “There is so much knowledge and expertise at this institute. I am grateful for how much I have learned from my colleagues during the three years I have been at RWI – and two and half years in the Zimbabwe team specifically.”

For more information download and read the Zimbabwe Programme Summary

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