University dress code: Gender Commission speaks

Top Stories Zimbabwe

Patience Nhamburo

After a public outcry following media reports that the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) had proposed the introduction of uniforms at tertiary institutions for female students, apparently to avoid sexual abuse by lecturers, the commission says its suggestions were taken out of context.

Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Virginia Muwanigwa dismissed as untrue the media reports. She said the media had misrepresented what the commission said at a public lecture at the Midlands State University, to raise awareness on gender and sexual harassment among students and staff at the institution.

The uproar arose after a ZGC official had suggested a dress code for female
university students.

Muwanigwa said introducing a dress code would not address sexual harassment of female students at tertiary institutions, but would reinforce
patriarchal dictates in Zimbabwean society, where women’s dressing is
monitored.

“Having a dress code cannot be a sustainable way of addressing the issue,what needs to be changed are the attitudes of the perpetrators, transformation of gender norms is needed in which men can respect women and their rights irrespective of what they are wearing”, Muwanigwa said.