President Robert Mugabe yesterday blamed the suppression of women in most African countries including Zimbabwe on traditional customs which he said promoted patriarchy which was difficult to eradicate.
Speaking at a high-level women’s conference, the Global Power Women Network Africa (GPWNA) conference in Harare yesterday, Mugabe said customs such as the paying of lobola contributed in ensuring that women remained inferior to men.
“All is not well in our world, there is still the issue of dowry, a man pays cattle and money in order to get a wife, if he does not do so, he does not get the wife so really, when he does pay the dowry he expects that the woman will obey him, that he is the head of the family and that all children belong to him, those things have not changed and I doubt they will change because the men will say: What do we pay the dowry for? So there are certain customs that tend to make the woman inferior,” he said.
Mugabe added that affirmative action needed to be applied in both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament to ensure that women were adequately represented in government. He said this was necessary because the current system where men and women contest on an equal footing was not ideal for equality in government because women would usually lose to men.
Mugabe also said the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe were to blame for the suppression of women because when the man was unemployed, it was the woman who had to ensure the family was sustained.
He also took aim at homosexuality, saying it would kill off the human race because “only the woman carries the womb” and so a man would need to mate with a woman to ensure that humanity did not become extinct.
The meeting entitled Accelerating Action for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality in the Area of HIV and Sexual/Reproductive Health and Rights was co-hosted by GPWNA, the African Union and UNAids.
Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, the current president of GPWNA, as well as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara attended.