Women of Zimbabwe Arise or WOZA was formed in 2003 to fill a gap left by various NGOs, church organizations and political parties that left women nationwide voiceless on issues concerning women. It is derived from the idea that the women have common issues and the solutions to which are not to be found in political affiliations. WOZA was thus envisioned to provide a platform for women to use the power of their numbers to press for policies and programmes to solve current issues, not to gain political power.
One of the more recent campaigns being spearheaded by WOZA is the Stand Up for your Child. Flyers saying "Intando yakho, ivoti yakho, yikukhonona kwakho" or "Your choice, your voice your protest" and encouraging to "Be ready to stand up and be counted!" are being plastered in urban and suburban neighborhoods. The message as the WOZA website centered on encouraging Zimbabweans to vote and to vote wisely for candidates that will deliver a future for the children. WOZA has taken a position to mobilise Zimbabweans to vote for any candidate that they feel will deliver social justice rather than follow blindly party loyalties.
Recently, eight members of WOZA were arrested in Pumula Frida as they put up posters encouraging Zimbabweans to stand up for their child and vote in the upcoming elections. They were subsequently taken to the Pumula Police Station. They were interrogated as to why they were wearing t-shirts encouraging voting and about the Stand Up for Your Child campaign. They were warned to cease their actions and finally released after 30 minutes of questioning.
With elections looming, the wanton arrest and physical abuse of citizens, as well as sexual abuse on female citizens who were not campaigning for any political party, but merely encouraging people to exercise their democratic right to vote is obvious human rights violation and example of the instrumentalization of violence by the Mugabe regume. Nonetheless, WOZA continues to encourage Zimbabweans to be ready to stand up and be counted on 29 March.
For more on WOZA check out their website http://wozazimbabwe.org/