The Sunday News
Johnsias Mutonhori, Midlands Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has embarked on a nationwide training and mentorship programme aimed at addressing impediments that discourage women’s active participation in national politics.
The training and mentoring programme is dubbed ‘women rise in politics’ and is meant to trigger women’s interest in politics ahead of next year’s harmonised elections. Speaking during a four-day training workshop in Kwekwe last week, Commissioner Obert Matshalaga who was standing in for ZGC chairperson Mrs Margaret Sangarwe said the number of women participating in politics compared to their male counterparts was quite bothersome.
“Statistics from the 2018 harmonized elections revealed a regressing amount of women representation in national politics with 48 % in senate, 31.5% in the national assembly, 13,3% at local government level. Further, the recently held March by-election results revealed that out of 28 parliamentary seats contested, only five women won compared to 23 males while at local government level, 19 females were elected as councillors against 103 elected males.
The obtaining situation is despite Zimbabwe being party to various international frameworks on gender equality and equity which all explicitly call for women’s equal representation in decision making positions including in political and public life,” she said.
At national level, the constitution contains a supportive legal framework for women’s equal participation in political decision making. Section 17 of the country’s constitution speaks of gender balance; Section 67 about political rights, including the right to stand for election for public office and Section 80 reinforces women’s rights to equal opportunities in the political sphere.
Commissioner Sangarwe urged women to ride on the legal frameworks provided at national and international levels to get into politics adding that ZGC recognizes that sustainable development, good governance and democracy was sacrosanct to women participation in all decision-making processes hence it identifies gender, politics and decision making as one of the key strategic areas for achieving gender equality.
The training and mentorship programme, she said was designed to address some of the impediments on women participation found by the Gender Audit contacted in 2019.
“The Gender Audit of the main political parties that was conducted in 2019 found some of the barriers on women participation to be lack of confidence, inadequate political networks, low access to information, lack of faith in political processes, lack of motivation, lack of resources, negative portrayal by the media and violence.
“Therefore, the training and mentorship programme has been designed to address some of these persistent barriers that constantly hinder women’s participation,” she said.
The ZGC has so far trained 239 women aspiring candidates from Harare, Bulawayo, Bindura, Chinhoyi, Marondera, Mutasa, Kwekwe, Hwange, Plumtree, Zvishavane, Gutu and Gwanda. It is going into the second phase of training in the remaining areas as it capacitates women candidates in preparation for the upcoming 2023 harmonized elections. The commission is mandated by the national constitution to spearhead and monitor gender parity at all levels of national development and decision-making positions.