THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has called on women from diverse backgrounds to apply for its mentorship programme targeted at encouraging more women to participate in politics.
The commission says the programme will also address the country’s political domain infested with gender intolerance which often manifests in violence, name calling, body shaming, sexual exploitation and harassment, stereotyping and systemic exclusion – predominantly against women.
In a statement yesterday, ZGC said the programme will be implemented in partnership with United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Women Rise in Politics (WRiP).
“The programme which targets the 2023 national elections and beyond, has been necessitated by the decrease in the participation and representation of women in the recent past national elections. Women do not only constitute around 52 percent of the total population but are also the majority of voters in Zimbabwe,” said ZGC.
“Despite these facts, women hold only 23 percent of elective parliamentary seats, 13,3 percent of local government seats and 48 percent of the Senate.
“These unfortunate statistics are an affront to the aspirations of Zimbabweans for full gender equality (50-50) as captured in the Constitution.”
ZGC added that prevalent negative practices have hindered meaningful participation and representation of women in politics other than as voters.
“It is against this unfortunate background that the Commission, in conjunction with UN Women and other development partners, initiated the Women Rise in Politics initiative.
“The programme will rest on the principle of inclusivity and therefore young women, women living in rural areas, women with disabilities, women living with HIV, among other diversity, are especially encouraged to apply,” said ZGC.
Those interested may visit http://www.zgc.co.zw or contact ZGC chairperson Ms Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe on 0712214203/ 0772869214. They can also contact ZGC chief executive officer Mrs Virginia Muwanigwa on 0712899543/ 0772327955.
Meanwhile, opposition LEAD president Linda Masarira has urged more women to enter politics and to converge into a united front on issues that affect them such as misogyny, stereotyping and limited economic opportunities.
“Zimbabwe is blessed with very intelligent, enterprising and hardworking women. Unfortunately most of them are not politically conscious and prefer to stand and watch from the periphery which has been very detrimental to the quality of our livelihoods,” Masarira said.
“If we struggled from the sperm to the ova, what is limiting us to struggle for economic freedoms, gender and labour justice, academic freedoms, constitutionalism, etc? All the problems we are facing as a nation have a heavier burden on the woman and are crosscutting whether you are LEAD, ZanuPF, MDCT, ZAPU, NPP, the other MDC member or not.
“I am appalled by the way that women in Zimbabwe shy away from politics and governance issues. They feel like the struggle for self determination is a struggle for men because of various gender stereotypes in our communities. Women do not want to join the struggle yet they struggle everyday.
“There are historical issues of marginalization of women in governance processes, structural deformities in political party rank and file, cultural barriers, a strong existing patriarchal system, misogyny, etc. The women’s struggle has been alive since 1918 and we now need to implement some of the achievements of the women’s struggle in Zimbabwe.”