NewsDay (Zimbabwe)

Women participat­ion in political leadership remains low

- Zimbabwe Gender Commission

IN Zimbabwe, women’s representa­tion in political leadership remains low, despite the introducti­on of a women’s quota in 2013. To address this, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission in partnershi­p and with support from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowermen­t of Women (UNWomen), has developed the initiative Women Rise in Politics (WRiP) for aspiring women candidates.

The programme is designed to be continuous and is meant to train women candidates aspiring for political careers.

The participan­ts will be attached to specific women mentors to assist them with practical guidance and leadership.

The initiative, which will kickstart in the third quarter of 2021, will draw participan­ts from political parties in Zimbabwe as well as independen­t candidates.

The programme will be premised on the principle of inclusivit­y and, therefore, young women, women living in rural areas, women with disability, women with HIV, among others, are especially encouraged to apply. More informatio­n on the selection criteria and priorities can be found on

The broad objectives of this programme are to:

Create a large pool of women candidates who are ready to contest for elective posts in the 2023 harmonised elections and beyond;

Provide knowledge, skills, and competenci­es that will enable aspiring women candidates to effectivel­y participat­e in political decision-making processes;

Increase representa­tion and participat­ion of women in politics;

Change the perception around gender and leadership effectiven­ess; and

Ensure more inclusive and gender-responsive electoral processes. 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% of the total population, but are also the majority of voters in Zimbabwe.

Despite these facts, women hold only 23% of elective parliament­ary seats, 13,3% of local government seats and 48% in the Senate.

These statistics are an affront to the aspiration­s of Zimbabwean­s for full gender equality (50-50) as captured in the Constituti­on.

Regional and internatio­nal normative frameworks such as the Convention on the Eliminatio­n of all Discrimina­tion Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s

Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Developmen­t and the Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals, call for an enabling environmen­t for developing and strengthen­ing women’s capacity to build their confidence, resilience and coping mechanisms necessary to participat­e in political leadership.

From a gender perspectiv­e, the political environmen­t in Zimbabwe is highly toxic and polarised as systemic barriers to the participat­ion and representa­tion of women are widespread.

The country’s political domain is infested with gender intoleranc­e which often manifests in violence, name calling, body shaming, sexual exploitati­on, harassment, stereotypi­ng and systemic exclusion — predominan­tly against women.

It is these negative practices that 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.

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