Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda has launched the Women’s Manifesto, Women’s Election Charter, The Pledge and the 50-50 Advocacy Campaign, which all call on relevant authorities to promote policies and practices that advance women empowerment in decision making positions.
Speaking at the occasion organised by the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus (ZWPC) and its partners, Adv Mudenda said the event was historic as it came at a time when the nation is due to conduct its 2018 harmonised elections.
“My hope is that these laudable efforts will lead to some convergent conversation in articulating advocacy for gender parity in all spheres of our Zimbabwean society,” he said.
“The levels of participation of women in politics and decision making positions remain a major concern in Zimbabwe and the world over despite the fact that they form the majority of voters and citizens as well. As of June 2011, Zimbabwe was ranked at position 76 out of 135 in terms of achievements in allowing women political space for representation in Parliament.”
He said women’s political involvement, participation and access to formal political power structures are constrained by structural, institutional and cultural barriers that hinder entry into politics.
Adv Mudenda said notwithstanding all the constraints and challenges there were prospects for the eventual attainment of gender parity in Zimbabwe.
“A number of national legislation and policies have been put in place to address the gender disparities in Zimbabwe. The Government has passed 17 pieces of legislation to advance the gender equality and equity objective,” he said.
“The most notable national legal landscape change is the new Constitution of 2013 whose provision for gender equality is very explicit. Section 17 of the Constitution clearly sets out gender balance as one of the national objectives, which must guide the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level in formulating and implementing gender sensitive laws and policy decisions.”
Chairperson of the Parliament Women’s Caucus and Minister of State for Manicaland Province Monica Mutsvangwa said 50-50 representation was key because women constitute 52 percent of the population in Zimbabwe.
“The Women’s Manifesto seeks, among other things, to spell out the situation of women and builds on the progress made in achieving 50-50. It clearly outlines women’s demands, while calling for Government’s accountability in advancing gender equality in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 5, which calls for gender equity,” she said.
“The manifesto also calls upon relevant authorities to promote policies and practices that advance women empowerment in decision making positions.”
She said the thematic areas for the manifesto were economic development covering agriculture and mining, social services, transport infrastructure and energy, access to justice and equal benefit of the law and women representation in governance structure.
The Women’s Manifesto was developed by ZWPC and representatives from various development partners, civic society organisations and the three political parties represented in Parliament, namely Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC.
The event was attended by parliamentarians, the civic society and women organisations among other delegates.