THE Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) has cited violence as a leading factor discouraging young women from actively participating in politics.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Zimbabwe will hold general elections next year, and women participation is pivotal as they constitute 52% of the population.
In a recent report titled Do middle class women defend democracy?, RAU noted that young women shied away from politics mainly because of violence, polarisation, corruption and nepotism.
“The general consensus was that political participation is risky and violence is too frequently a part of the contest; and politics are strongly associated with corruption and nepotism,” read part of the report.
“In general, young women found little attraction for participating in politics because political participation has been reduced to a polarised contest between two main political parties, and political participation is associated with men and particular types of women.
“These young women even avoided registering as voters or voting, rather using the time to catch up with friends and family.”
Other reasons given for poor participation of young women in politics were difficulties encountered in registering to vote.
“The young women want to participate but are failing to find spaces they are comfortable in to express themselves politically, and it is important for them to see that sitting out is also a political statement.
“This has had the effect of demobilising young women, and the group of women that should be in the forefront of pushing the feminist agenda are largely silent (or silenced).”
RAU called on stakeholders involved in election processes to engage middle class women in their own spaces and provide them with information relevant to their concerns.