Parly speaker urges adoption of mothers’ surnames

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SPEAKER of parliament Jacob Mudenda says Zimbabweans should now consider carrying their mothers’ surnames in addition to their fathers’ which they traditionally use as their second appellations.

Mudenda was addressing hundreds of women MPs, women civic leaders and aspiring MPs during a gender parity conference in Harare this past week.

During the event, firebrand gender activist Isabella Matambanadzo also urged locals to brace for a civil suit set to be filed on behalf of the broader women’s movement seeking to compel government to stick to constitutional provisions which prescribe a 50-50 approach to government’s leadership structure.

In his remarks, Mudenda gave his emphatic support for the move, adding that it was time Zimbabweans also adopted their mothers’ surnames.

“Why do I carry the surname of my father and not of my mother? Why, why!” Mudenda said in his speech.

“My father did not make me without my mother. In other countries now, they have got barrelled surnames; your name, your mother’s surname-your father’s surname.

“That might be a cultural revolution against patriarchy. Think about it, think about it, think about it! Patriarchy and male chauvinism are the worst enemies of your 50-50 campaign movement.”

Mudenda’s comments also follow those of Umzingwane legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who once said she was considering adopting her mother’s surname.

Misihairabwi Mushonga had said that her intentions were spurred by that it was much easier to identify one’s mother than a father, hence the need to stick to a mother’s surname.

Constitutional obligation

Meanwhile, in her address, Matambanadzo dared government to ignore constitutional provisions for gender parity when it comes to candidate selection among political parties this coming election or expect a constitutional challenge which should compel them to do so.

“Our gender equality call for 50-50 is not a request, it is not an option, it is a constitutional obligation,” she said.

“Allow me honourable speaker to humbly remind you that you are an advocate and we count so much on you and your knowledge of the law to make this come to pass in our life time.

“The problem is that if we don’t achieve this in the forthcoming elections, we can expect that there would come to the Constitutional Court a case of inequality and a breach of the constitution by the women of Zimbabwe. We will sue our government for not ensuing that we have a 50-50 government in our lifetime.

“We would like our sisters at the human rights commission to prepare for our docket. We will file a complaint that there is no 50-50 even though there is a constitutional provision.

“We would like our sisters at the gender commission to prepare for our complaint that there is no 50-50 in our politics. So please prepare yourselves for that challenge. If you don’t do what we need this coming election, this challenge is coming.”

Matambanadzo said at the rate with which Zimbabwe was adopting gender parity in leadership structures, it may take the next 50 years before the country realised full gender equality.

Zimbabwe’s current gender representation structure in influential positions stands at 35 percent despite women constituting 52 percent of the national population.

This is a far cry from a country such as Rwanda which now has 61.3% women representatives in government.