Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world today in celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD), amid concerns that the number of women 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 of Zimbabwe has signed and ratified regional and international covenants, treaties and instruments 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.
In 2015, 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.
A local organisation, the Zimbabwe Dream Project (ZDP), said although promoting women into leadership is an 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.
Local women’s organisations have previously raised concern over the fact that there has not been much progress and actually a regression in terms of advocating for women’s rights.
The human rights defenders called for concerted efforts in stepping up campaigns to ensure women were included in decision-making platforms and positions.