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Gender Commission Concerned With Low Women Representation In Politics

The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has expressed concern over the low representation of women in political leadership and other levels of decision making in the country.

In a speech read on her behalf by the Commission Deputy Chairperson Commissioner Obert Matshalaga during an inter-party round table on women’s political participation in Harare, Tuesday, ZGC Chairperson Commissioner Margaret Mukahanana said the disparities in the political field are a violation of the Constitution.

“Despite commitments at various levels on promoting gender equality, the political landscape in Zimbabwe continues to be characterized by low representation of women in political leadership and other levels of decision making. Notwithstanding the fact that women constitute 52% of the demographic population of Zimbabwe and in addition being the majority of voters, women, constitute a mere 13.3% of Local Government Councilors, 31.5% of the National Assembly and 48% of the senate (as per 2018 general elections).

“Women’s participation at presidential level in previous election is also appalling with four females contesting against a total of 23 presidential candidates and gaining a total of less than 5% of the electoral votes. Such glaring gender disparities in the political sphere is a cause for concern for the Commission and it is in violation of sections 17, 56 and 80 of the Constitution which affirms equal participation, representation and participation in all sectors,” said Commissioner Mukahanana

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Commissioner Mukahanana said participation is a sign of deep-rooted effects of negative social norms and patriarchy.

“The persistent low representation of women in politics and decision-making is symbolic of deep-rooted impact of patriarchy and other negative social norms that discourage women’s participation. Patriarchy systemically portrays politics as a man’s domain and women who enter politics are labelled and subjected to negative stereotyping and in some instances experience violence in all its forms. Other barriers include lack of financial resources to bank roll their campaigns, gender biased party internal processes,” said the Commissioner.

The meeting was meant to influence reform of political party constitutions and policies towards gender parity in outcomes and strengthen gender mainstreaming capacity of political parties through institutionalization of gender equality and adherence to gender parity principles and was co-organised by the Zimbabwe Institute, HIVOS Southern Africa, Institute of Young Women Development and Embassy of Ireland.

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