Zimbabwe yesterday commemorated International Women’s Day, amid concerns that the number of females in leadership positions remained low.
By Phyllis Mbanje
This is despite the fact that women constitute 52% of the total population and that the government signed and ratified regional and international conventions aimed at promoting gender equality and respect for women’s rights.
“There remains inadequate political will to translate these commitments into tangible parity between men and women in terms of accessing leadership positions,” Election Resource Centre (ERC) director, Tawanda Chimhini said.
Previous elections have shown that women have very limited access to information and resources to enable them to effectively engage in electoral processes at the same level with their male counterparts.
The electoral environment in Zimbabwe, which continues to be characterised by violence, intimidation and hate speech, forces most women to shy away from such platforms, ERC has said in the past.
Last year, the ERC conducted a survey on factors undermining participation of women in governance processes.
The findings revealed that the political environment is not conducive for women to participate in elections, which have also not translated into improvements to women’s desired role in central decision-making on national policies.
Civic society and activists celebrated the day in various ways, from street marches, teas, discussions and public talks.
The heads of the diplomatic missions of Australia, Denmark, European Union, Sweden and United Nations Women participated in a power walk under the theme Step It Up For Gender Equality.
A local organisation, Zimbabwe Dream Project (ZDP), said although promoting women into leadership positions was imperative, it must never be done without building strong, competent and independent girls.
“Gender inequality thrives largely because the oppressed are not fully capacitated to stand up against the oppression,” ZDP director, Kudakwashe Chakabva said.
This year’s theme, Pledge for Parity, calls for everyone to commit to the struggle for gender equality.
“We have not made much progress. We are actually regressing in terms of advocating for women’s rights,” Women’s Action Group director, Edna Musiiwa said.
She called for concerted efforts in stepping up campaigns to ensure women were included on decision-making platforms and positions.
“It is time to reflect, re-energise and take charge of meaningful campaigns that bear results,” she said.