By Anna Chibamu
DESPITE several initiatives being formulated in parliament, local authorities and cabinet, women are still poorly represented in almost all sectors of the economy, according to Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) executive director Sitabile Dewa.
Dewa was speaking at a breakfast meeting last Friday in Harare where WALPE partnered Parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in deliberations concerning “outstanding electoral reforms that affect women’s full participation in electoral processes”.
“It is saddening to note that despite all initiatives in place, women still are poorly represented in Parliament, in local authority councils and in cabinet. Women are also notably poorly represented in leadership structures in other sectors of government, and the economy including the judiciary, in the public service and on the governing boards of parastatals, private business entities and civil society organisations,” Dewa said.
“Zimbabwe has made considerable strides towards gender parity. However, a lot still needs to be done. One of the biggest achievements was the promulgation of a gender sensitive Constitution in 2013, which has elaborated and gender-sensitive bill of rights and is serving as a guideline for increasing the participation of women in politics and decision-making,” she said.
According to Dewa, some of the provisions that recognize women as equal partners with men and seek to empower them are the preamble of the constitution exalts and extols the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles.
“For example, Section 3 of the constitution on founding values and principles, acknowledges gender equality, whilst section 17 on gender balance provides that the State must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society based on equality with men,” she said.
Zimbabwe has passed about 17 pieces of legislation to advance the gender equality and equity objective.
However, not much has been achieved in terms of women representation in local government with 27 urban councils and 51 rural district councils countrywide.
“There is no provision for reserved seats for women in local authorities. At the harmonised elections held in 2018, only 274 women were elected as councillors, and this translates to a percentage of 14%. This is a drop from the 16% achieved in the 2013 elections.”
“It is everyone’s responsibility to input into political reforms as well as review of the legal framework on elections with a view to bringing them into conformity with international best practices and the letter and spirit of our own Constitution,” highlighted Dewa.