Young women in Guruve says their participation in elections as candidates is being hampered by derogatory and threatening messages from their senior and male compatriots.
Speaking to 263Chat on the sidelines of the last leg of the Institute of Young Women Development (IYWD) workshop on community envisioning ahead of the July 30 elections, young women said they could not stand as aspiring candidates because of hurtful and discriminatory they had received.
“I contested for the Parliamentary seat for Guruve North during the primary elections of a certain party but I could not take the challenge further after some male contestants started calling me names. They referred to me as a ‘hure’ (prostitute). That hurts me to the core and I ended up throwing in the towel,” said Cathrine Gora.
“We were threatened and for an unmarried woman like me, it was even worse. I was called a prostitute and they told me I could not stand in front of men. However, there is nothing with me being a prostitute because it is my right to be or not to be,” she said.
Gora added that too often, young women in the area, are bought off with money so that they do not stand for public offices.
47 political parties fielded candidates for the National Assembly elections with 20 of them not fielding a single woman 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
Another young woman, Memory Museyamwa, said rural women have suffered in silence for a long time as most male politicians think they have a sole right to be public office bearers.
“What I have realised is that most male politicians think women in rural areas are just there to be doing house chores and not add a voice in the political space. They think we do not have a right to be taking up public office posts hence they sideline us.
“I then lose confidence to be standing up and air my view. It even goes back to my home. My husband might not even agree with my decision to take up that challenge. Most men think if a woman gets into politics, she will become a loose cannon. They start calling us names which in turn demoralise us,” she said.
Thulani Muronzi from Ward 1 in Guruve, said most women in Mashonaland Province even suffer from domestic abuse after registering their intentions to be in politics.
“It pains me that when women want to be in politics, they are brutalised even by their spouses. so we need to find ways of protecting them during election time,” she said.
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.
During the interface, Mnangagwa reiterated his government’s commitment to the African Union Charter which requires that member states have equal representation of women across the board.