NEWLY-APPOINTED chairperson of the Women and Youth Affairs Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga has vowed to use her influence to lobby legislators to craft the Marriages and Child Marriages Bill during her six-month stint before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the 2018 elections.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga told NewsDay she would also campaign for the free distribution and duty-free importation of sanitary wear for schoolchildren.

The MDC legislator assumed the chairperson’s post last week, replacing Goromonzi West legislator Biata Nyamupinga (Zanu PF).

“I feel that it is a big challenge that I only have six months to deal with issues affecting women and youths, but I am very clear that as a committee, we need to ensure that we push for crafting of the Marriages Bill and the Child Marriages Bill to deal with issues of early child marriages,” she said.

“I also need to facilitate for young people’s voices to be heard around issues of policy development, so that space is created for them to speak for themselves.”

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said she was confident that she would get support from President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi on the two Bills.

“Mnangagwa confirmed the issue of age of consent when he was still Justice minister, and I do not think it will be a problem to assent to those Bills,” she said.

However, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said she felt challenged taking over from Nyamupinga, who worked hard fighting for women’s rights.

“I am very conflicted, firstly because I am taking over from someone who has been very active and who has done a wonderful job around raising issues on gender. The shoes are too big to fill, but this is something I have been advocating for in the past three decades because I also come from a women’s movement. Another worry is that there is no time to do a good job because I only have six months to chair the committee before the 2018 elections,” she said.



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