Hundreds of aspiring women leaders drawn from all the country’s ten provinces on Friday, 28 February 2020 gathered in Harare and petitioned the Parliament of Zimbabwe to implement outstanding electoral reforms that affect women’s full participation in electoral processes. The women leaders marched in the city centre waving placards demanding equal representation in all leadership positions.
The gathering comes against a backdrop of Government’s efforts to put in place outstanding electoral reforms that promote free, fair and credible elections in the country. The event was also necessitated by the Government’s proposal to amend section 124b of the Constitution through extending the women’s parliamentary proportional representation quota system by 10 more years. Aspiring women leaders are convinced that the move is a piecemeal measure towards the achievement of gender equality and proposes that the Government instead must fully implement section 17, 56 and 80 of the constitution which clearly guarantee the achievement of gender parity.
The petition appealed to the Government to:
- Exercise its full powers as provided for by the Constitution of Zimbabwe to align the Electoral Act [2:13] with the supreme law.
- Ensure that the electoral reform agenda which is before Parliament guarantees 50/50 gender equality in all elected leadership positions as directed by the Constitution.
- Put in place punitive measures to curb all forms of violence and other malpractices against women throughout the electoral cycle.
- Amend the Political Party Finances Act to put budget ceiling on campaigns for all contested public elected positions set out in the Constitution or by any law.
- Amend the Electoral Act to include equitable use of public funds allocated to parties in line with the Constitutional provisions of 50% gender representation.
It is our hope that if the above pleas are put into consideration, they will help in creating a conducive environment for women to freely, actively and fully participate in electoral processes as candidates, voters and election administrators.
Meanwhile . . .
Male engagement for gender equality meetings
WALPE and WLSA also facilitated male engagement for equality platforms in Chitungwiza on Saturday, 29 February 2020 which was attended by 100 men including the Mayor, three councilors and one member of Parliament (MP). The platform was used to engage men to support electoral reforms and women leadership. The men raised several challenges that inhibit women from occupying leadership positions. Some of the issues raised include patriarchy, culture and tradition, the violent nature of some campaigns, the monetization of election campaigns and women pulling each other down.
At the end of the activity, there was consensus amongst the participants on the urgent need for women to occupy key leadership positions. The men pledged to support women who aspire to run for public office. They went further to propose joint meetings with both men and women to iron out sticking issues. Councilor Lovemore Maiko – Chitungwiza Mayor, commended the men for coming out in their numbers and pledging to support gender equality at all levels of leadership. He went further to highlight the need for similar programmes in both primary and high schools as it is at that level were boys are socialized and learn gender roles.
Women capacity building training programme on elections and electoral reforms
45 aspiring women leaders were trained in electoral processes and the electoral reform agenda in Wedza on 26 February 2020. The group comprised of teachers, social entrepreneurs, and politicians aspiring to run for public office in the near future. The training increased the participants’ knowledge on Constitutional provisions and electoral reforms as well as boost their confidence to participate in electoral processes as candidates.
Source: Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)