UN Women supports political participation of women framework Gorreti Mudzongo, UN Women advisor

Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor

UN Women is supporting a five – year Framework on Women’s Political Participation (WPP) to support measures and activities that stimulate women’s interest in taking part in politics in Zimbabwe, a senior official says.

Gorreti Mudzongo, UN Women advisor told participants at the launch #EndViolenceVoteForHer Campaign focused on supporting women candidates and ending violence against women during electoral processes, that the framework broadly sought to promote women’s political participation with a set of key strategies and actions.

“We are supporting Zimbabwe to develop a five year Framework on Women’s Political Participation (2023 – 2028) that will enhance women’s participation in elections. A whole range of policies are there, but the challenge is implementation,” she said.

“We need to be strategic. We are supporting the Zimbabwe Election Commission, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission and the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development to scale up women’s participation in politics.”

She said the overall goal of the framework on WPP is to provide strategic direction and actions for achieving quantitative and qualitative increase of women’s participation in the 2028 elections.

A coalition of development and women’s rights organisations – UN Women, Hivos, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), Gender Links, Zimbabwe Institute, Women in Politics Support Unit (WIPSU), Women Academy for leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE), Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) held a joint launch of the #EndViolenceVoteForHer Campaign.

The campaign aims to support women candidates and end violence against women during electoral processes.

Women’s rights activists expressed concern over the regression of women’s participation in the 2023 election.

“Women’s participation in the August 2023 election is seemingly regressive. We only have 11 percent of the candidates being women in the National Assembly compared to 89 percent of men, while 14 percent women are local government candidates and only one woman in the presidential race,” said Belinda Ncube of the Zimbabwe Institute.

“We have not registered any gains and we have been regressive. There has been a drop of over 20 percent from the previous elections to 11 percent now.”

An estimated 85.1 percent of local government candidates are males.

Fadzai Ruziwe, WLSA legal officer, called for more measures and actions to support women’s participation in politics.

“We need to commit ourselves to stand and support all women candidates. Together we can remove gender barriers and create an enabling environment for women to participate in politics,” she said.

The coalition of women’s groups called for peaceful elections and for the respect of the outcome of the August 2023 election.

“We must vote peacefully and vote for women. Peace is very important for us as a nation to reduce violence and destruction of property. I encourage Zimbabweans to be patient and to respect the outcome of the elections,” said a Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) official.

Said Reverend Faresy Sakala of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches: “Women’s participation in politics can benefit the nation. Women have motherly love and are caring and this should complement men’s leadership qualities.

“We condemn all forms of violence. The law must be respected and we are asking everyone to stop violence.”

UN Women has supported and complemented a wide variety of organised training in electoral campaigns for women seeking to develop a political career, NGO advocacy for women’s right to stand for election and training in women’s empowerment.

Although a battery of measures and policy have been adopted by the country, women remain under – represented across different levels of decision-making, particularly in ministerial positions and at the local level.

Zimbabwe has made tremendous strides in increasing women’s participation in politics and decision-making, but more still needs to be done..

Most Zimbabwean women politicians point to patriarchal societal stereotypes as a key barrier to gender parity in politics.

Systemic inequities such as women’s relative lack of economic power and male – dominated political parties continue to hinder gender equality and subsequently women’s political participation.

The work done to advance Gender Equality has not yet translated into equal political representation and participation in leadership positions and women leadership realities are still far below the target and expectation of gender balance in decision-making set in the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action.

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