More than Primadonnas of the Women‘s Movement: Placing young women at the center of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights advocacy initiatives in Zimbabwe

Author(s): Diana Motsi
Final project
Year of publication:
Supervisors: Yvonne K. Fulbright


Adolescent girls and young women in Zimbabwe face various challenges in accessing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) services in Zimbabwe due to lack of resources, gaps within laws and policies, and societal attitudes towards the rights of women and their bodies strongly linked to religion and cultural practices. Tremendous efforts have been made to ensure a change within the SRHR landscape to review laws and policies to better serve young women. Civic society has been crude in its fight to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as human rights through formulating strategies such as the Adolescent Sexual Health strategy and the groundbreaking Sexual Health and Rights strategy. These have been central outlining SRHR outcomes and addressing issues of accountability and transparency of the government in alignment with the regional SRHR guidelines such as the SADC SRHR Strategy.

The women’s movement in Zimbabwe has been key in these efforts and has played a significant part in the praxis of gender equality in the country. These women have been on the frontline of advocating for the rights of women, their dignity and freedom and have led to greater developments within SRHR. Over the past few years young voices are starting to emerge which have been critical to building up new feminist energy. From running the social media streets and physical streets in townships and downtown, these young women have been at the forefront of denouncing rape culture and child marriage, and starting uncomfortable conversations both online and offline. Creating loose feminist organizations and collectives, most of these women have furthered feminism into larger spaces. However, due to shrinking civic space, these women have not been given a full chance to cultivate their movement and to fully utilize their capacity to demand and improve Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

This project intends to build a case for the need to place young women at the center of SRHR advocacy in Zimbabwe through complementing their efforts to reshape SRHR outcomes and shift laws and perspectives in the country through capacity building aimed at re-politicizing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and the body agenda, strengthening intergenerational networks, prioritizing young women’s meaningful inclusion in the women’s movement space, and expanding feminist digital activism.