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ZESN Calls For Gender Equality Across Sectors

Elections lobby group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has reiterated its calls for a 50/50 gender parity across the divide to ensure women inclusion in all realms of economic, social and political activities. 

In a message to commemorate the International Women’s Day running under the theme “#Embracing Equality,” the ZESN said equal representation remains an illusion in the country.

“The 50-50 representation has remained a figment of imagination in Zimbabwe as women remain under represented in politics in spite of the Constitutional provisions on women’s rights, gender balance, equality, inclusion and non-discrimination to enhance women’s participation in democratic electoral processes,” said the Network

ZESN called for the domesticatication of international instruments that Zimbabwe is signatory to.

“These mandate state parties to eliminate all barriers that prevent women from actively participating in the political sphere. However, although Zimbabwe has ratified these, they have not been domesticated into our laws.

“ZESN notes that 90 percent of the candidates for the major parties that contested in the 2018 harmonized elections, namely ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance respectively were male. Out of the 47 political parties that fielded candidates in the National Assembly, only 27 fielded at least one woman candidate.

“Of the 1652 candidates that contested only 243 were female. 14.7% of women managed to contest in the election. Of those who contested, only 26 managed to be elected versus 29 women who were elected in 2013. Not only is this figure low, but it falls short of the 50-50 regional representation mark,” ZESN said.

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The Network said the women’s quota system falls short of the constitutionally required representation.

“ZESN, is of the view that, the Women’s Quota system does not meet the 50\50 prescribed by the Constitutional Amendment No. 2 which requires Proportional Representation of women of not less than 30% at local council level. The proposed Electoral Amendment Bill does not speak to issues of inclusivity, in particular women with disabilities. The Network is of the view that the quotas in the Bill must expressly reserve some seats for women with disabilities to ensure their equal representation and participation.

“ZESN notes with concern the perpetuation of violence against women in elections (VAWIE) manifesting in the form of hate speech, name calling and body shaming, cyberbullying and physical violence. The Network calls for political will of those in power to create an enabling environment for women to fully participate in politics and election processes ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections,” said ZESN

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