WOMEN politicians should take their respective political parties and the government to the Constitutional Court to force compliance with constitutional provisions regarding gender equality.
Addressing the 50-50 Advocacy Campaign and Women’s Manifesto launch in Harare Tuesday, Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said women must ensure that their parties comply with constitutional provisions on gender representation.
“Parliament and government can be taken to court if it does not fulfil the provisions of the Constitution,” he said.
“Not only government; how about political parties whose constitutions do not address gender parity? They must be in line with the national constitution.”
Mudenda said the level of female participation in politics and development remained very low despite efforts by women to rise to leadership positions.
“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.”
This, the Speaker said, was despite the keen interest in national politics shown by women since the liberation struggle which culminated in the country’s 1980 independence, adding that multiple factors contributed to the underrepresentation of women in leadership.
“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.” he said.
“These barriers include economic marginalization characterised by poverty, cultural dynamics underpinned by patriarchy and male chauvinism, traditions and customs that view women as mothers and housewives who must be confined to the kitchen, discriminatory laws and policies and social norms and values among others.”
Mudenda, however, noted there were prospects for gender parity in Zimbabwe, with the country being signatory to a number of these International and Regional Conventions and Protocols that provide for gender equality.
There are 85 female parliamentarians out of 270 legislators in the lower house, while 37 out of 80 senators are female, mainly those who came in through proportional representation.
Of the 27 ministers, only four are women, while seven of the 22 deputy ministers are female.