Political Intimidation Hamper Women’s Participation In Election
Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) National Director, Jestina Mukoko has expressed concern over the under-representation of women in the forthcoming elections saying this could affect the decision-making processes in the post-election period.
Mukoko made the remarks while officiating at a Centre for Investigative Journalism Zimbabwe (CIJZ) workshop, where she said in this year’s election, many women decided to take a backseat as they had been subjected to victimization and intimidation.
“Participation of women in the political fray has largely been hampered intimidation from both political parties and community. The representation is too low and this is because women get the worst of it in terms of threats and intimidation.
“Of concern also is the fact that women were being thrust against each other and that has widened the gender disparity that already exists. Women avoid being harassed by staying away, ” she said.
Many female politicians complain of a hostile and prejudiced environment in which abuse is common.
Only one in 10 Zanu-PF candidates and around one in seven opposition candidates are female in this year’s election. Women are also notably absent from the top ranks of both parties.
However, an internal Zanu-PF regulation ensures a minimum of one female candidate from each of Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.
Though there are few female heads of state, women are well represented in parliaments elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda has one of the highest levels of female representation in the world, women make up 61% of its MPs.
In South Africa, the proportion is 42%. In the UK it is 35%, less than Senegal, Tanzania, Angola and Burundi.
At a recent workshop in Bindura, women said they remain camped outside the levers of political power as they have been left out of key decision positions, despite promises of inclusivity and gender balance in all social and economic spheres by the ‘New Dispensation’.
Institute for Young Women’s Development leader, Glanis Changachirere said despite the will that young women showed in participating in the forthcoming elections, they were left in the cold hence their needs will not be met.
She said the inability of incumbent parliamentarians to come back and listen to issues affecting young women was a cause for concern hence the dialogue between the prospective MPs and the young women.
“We want the incoming MPs, regardless of their political affiliations, to come back to the community and address the issues that affect us as young women. We have issues to do with Sexual Reproductive Health, which we feel, are better addressed by female representatives but looking at the candidates we have in Bindura, they are all males,” she noted.
Young women also bemoaned the continued domination of their male counterparts in political space.