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Women’s participation in politics declining, parties not achieving gender equality – says Zimbabwe Gender Commission

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By Anna Chibamu


THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission has revealed that women’s participation in all political parties is regressing with no gender equality in practice.

This is despite an elaborate legislative and policy framework in Zimbabwe pushing for their participation.

Addressing delegates during a High-Level lnter-Generational dialogue on women’s political participation on Monday, the commission’s chairperson Margret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said: “Statistics from the 2018 harmonized elections reveal regressing low women representation with 31.5% in the National Assembly (85 women, 60 of them coming in through the quota, making those directly elected, effectively only 11.9%) and a mere 13.3% in Local government (267 women against 1689 male councillors).

“For Senate, the statistics are at 48% (38 women against 42 male senators) owing to the use of proportional representation under a zebra formation. In 2018, only 6 young women under 35 made it to parliament, making up only 2,85%.”

Zimbabwe will hold its harmonised elections this August but already, results of primary elections held by the ruling Zanu PF party recently highlighted male dominance in all the provinces.

Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) is yet to announce candidate who will represent the party in the upcoming elections.

Mukahanana-Sangarwe added that following the 2018 harmonised elections, the Commission conducted a gender audit of the main political parties in the country to establish a baseline on the status of gender equality within political parties.

‘’Audit findings revealed that all the political parties which were under study were still far from achieving gender equality in practice even if their documents recognised the need to integrate gender.

‘’There is still a need to align party constitutions, policies, procedures, and practice to the gender equality dictates of the National Constitution,” said Mukahanana-Sangarwe.

She added that political parties negatively influence women’s participation through failure to recognise and address the unlevel playing field.

‘’Political parties act as gatekeepers as they determine who can compete for political leadership and who can then be considered for appointment to the executive and the male-dominated structures are yet to evolve and become more inclusive.

‘’The audit also found that parties allocate constituency seats with minimum opportunities for women to win.

“Primary elections, a domain which still requires concerted research, also according to the audit, perpetrate discriminatory party procedures and practices creating a hostile environment to women candidates,’’ she lamented.

Of the three main political parties in the 2018 harmonised elections, Zanu PF fielded only 15% female candidates while MDC Alliance had 15% female candidates registering against 85% males who registered in both respectively.

MDC T, registered 22% women candidates against 78% males. the level of women’s participation as candidates.

Mukahanana-Sangarwe added, ‘’It is worrying to note that the same trends are likely to be reflected in the forthcoming harmonised elections based on the 2022 by-election nominations and more recently, the primary elections that have been conducted.’’

The Commission called for an imperative need to address some challenges limiting women’s participation which include violence, gender inequality and inadequate resources.