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Monday, September 25, 2023
HomeElections 2023Addressing Gender Inequalities: A Vital Step for Political Parties in Zimbabwe Ahead of the 2023 Elections

Addressing Gender Inequalities: A Vital Step for Political Parties in Zimbabwe Ahead of the 2023 Elections

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As Zimbabwe gears up for the 2023 elections, it is crucial for political parties to recognize and confront the pressing issue of gender inequalities within their structures.

The need to ensure women’s equal representation and participation in politics has become an increasingly important concern, not just from a human rights perspective but also to strengthen democracy and promote sustainable development.

Zimbabwe is a country that has ratified several international and regional instruments that promote gender equality and women’s rights, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development.

However, despite these commitments, Zimbabwe still faces significant challenges in achieving gender parity in politics and governance.

According to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a non-governmental organization that monitors elections and advocates for electoral reforms, women’s representation in elected positions remains low and stagnant.

In its position paper on mechanisms to increase the representation of women in elections and governance in Zimbabwe, ZESN notes that women constitute only 14% of the members of parliament, 13% of the senators, 16% of the ministers, and 18% of the councillors.

These figures are far below the 50-50 target set by the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which Zimbabwe signed in 2008.

This article delves into the key reasons why political parties in Zimbabwe must prioritize tackling gender inequalities before the upcoming elections.

Democracy and Inclusivity

A truly representative democracy necessitates the inclusion of diverse perspectives and experiences. By overlooking gender inequalities, political parties in Zimbabwe risk marginalizing and silencing a significant portion of the population.

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Women make up over half of the population, yet they continue to be underrepresented in political decision-making bodies. Addressing this disparity is not only a matter of fairness but also an essential step towards creating a more inclusive and democratic society.

Empowering Women’s Voices

Gender inequalities prevent women from actively participating in politics, limiting their ability to influence policy decisions and advocate for issues that directly impact their lives. By actively working to address these disparities, political parties can help empower women’s voices and provide a platform for them to contribute to the country’s development. Diverse perspectives lead to more comprehensive policy-making and greater responsiveness to the needs of all citizens.

According to Commissioner Margret Mukahanana Sangarwe, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC): “There is therefore still a need to align Party Constitutions, policies, procedures, and practice to the gender equality dictates of the National Constitution. Further, the Gender Audit noted that political parties covertly or overtly negatively influence women’s participation through failure to recognize and address the unlevel playing field.”

Enhancing Governance and Accountability

Studies have consistently shown a positive correlation between the presence of women in decision-making roles and good governance. Women often bring different priorities and leadership styles to the table, resulting in improved policy outcomes and enhanced accountability. By ensuring gender parity within their ranks, political parties can contribute to more effective governance structures and strengthen the democratic fabric of Zimbabwe.

Strengthening Sustainable Development

Gender equality is not just a social issue; it is also essential for sustainable development. Women’s participation in politics and decision-making has been linked to better social outcomes, improved education, and enhanced healthcare systems. By addressing gender inequalities within their own ranks, political parties can lead by example and set the stage for a more equitable society, fostering an environment that supports sustainable development for all Zimbabweans.

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ZESN’s Position Paper

The ZESN’s position paper on mechanisms to increase the representation of women in elections and governance in Zimbabwe provides invaluable insights and recommendations. Among the key points highlighted are:

The importance of adopting affirmative action policies, such as quotas, to promote the inclusion of women in political party structures and candidate selection processes.

The need for political parties to allocate adequate financial resources and support to women candidates, including training and mentorship programs.

The significance of engaging in widespread public awareness campaigns to challenge gender stereotypes, raise awareness about women’s political rights, and encourage increased participation.

The establishment of clear and transparent mechanisms for reporting and addressing incidents of gender-based violence and intimidation faced by women in politics.

Collaboration between political parties, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to create a conducive environment for women’s political participation and ensure the effective implementation of gender-responsive electoral reforms.

Conclusion

In conclusion, political parties in Zimbabwe must proactively address gender inequalities before the 2023 elections. By prioritizing the inclusion and empowerment of women, parties can strengthen democracy, enhance governance and accountability, and contribute to sustainable development.

The ZESN’s position paper serves as a comprehensive guide, providing practical recommendations for political parties to promote gender equality and increase women’s representation in politics.

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Multi-award winning journalist/photojournalist with keen interests in politics, youth, child rights, women and development issues. Follow Lovejoy On Twitter @L_JayMut

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