Aspiring parliamentary candidates from Mashonaland Central Province have pledged to support women’s development projects once elected into office while committing to improve the livelihoods of communities.
Speaking at an Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) Community Visioning Forum meant to facilitate dialogue between young women and Parliamentary candidates on the status of Social Service Delivery in communities, the aspiring candidates noted with concern that women have, for long, been left out in developmental projects hence the need to include them.
“Our party will ensure that we avail funds for women which will be channelled towards various empowerment projects. if you look at our country, the majority of women are not employed and they end up engaged in various projects. So that is what we want to do, we want to take up on those and develop onto bigger projects,” said Chounda Benvolio of the Zimbabwe Democratic Union (ZDU).
He added that he would ensure that single mothers are given grants to help them start small businesses.
“Single mothers and young women have for long been looked down upon and if I’m elected into power I will ensure that they get funding to kickstart small businesses,” he said.
Isiah Mandaza of the National Patriotic Front (NPF) vying for the Mazowe Central Constituency said women are the backbone of the economy and they need to be included in all spheres of the economy.
“As NPF, we want to restore the dignity of women. If you look around the country, there is less respect for women and less representation in all economic spheres, so our pledge is to that we want to ensure that all women get the respect they deserve,” he noted.
Ellen Mazorodze representing the People’s Rainbow Coalition (PRC) noted the exclusion of women in political governance and the domination of males, a move she said is still far from over as evidenced by the number of women taking part in the July 30 elections.
Of concern at the meeting, is that all but one of the 12 aspiring candidates, were males.
Article 17 of the Zimbabwean Constitution adopted in 2013 guarantees gender equality in all areas of decision-making, but the Constitution only spells out a quota for women in parliament, not in any other area, including local government.
Despite massive advocacy and a much-publicised meeting by women from all walks of life with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in May, women’s representation in parliament and local government will at best remain the same, at the worst decline.
47 political parties fielded candidates for the National Assembly elections with 20 of them not fielding a single women at all and two fielding only one woman each.
Accordingly, women constitute a mere 15% of candidates contesting the July 30 harmonised elections with 84 of the country’s 210 Constituencies being contested by men only.
The national quota, which borrows from a model horned in Tanzania, allows women to compete freely in these seats, but reserves an additional 30 per cent seats for women only, distributed among parties in a proportional basis. This led to the representation of women in parliament increasing from 18% to 35% in 2013.