‘Women remain at the bottom of the ladder’

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Despite all the activism and resources that have been used to ensure gender equality, there is still significant and very low representation of women in the political space, corporate sector and other economic social
institutions.

BY MUNESU NYAKUDYA

Addressing stakeholders at the National Gender forum, Zimbabwe Gender Commission chairperson Margaret Mukahanana said women remained at the bottom of the ladder and were predominantly the face of poverty.

She said statistics indicated that women constituted 34% of the current Parliament, with both the National Assembly and Senate having 135 women out of 350 members.

“Out of 26 Cabinet ministers, only three are women and out of 10 ministers of provincial affairs, only four are women. Out of 19 deputy ministers, only four are women, and out of 1 635 councillors, only 323 are women. Out of 26 permanent secretaries, only eight are women,” Mukahanana said.

“Statistics further indicate under-representation in the corporate sector and other economic social institutions. Out of the 64 chief executive officers (CEOs) of the private companies listed on the Zimbabwean Stock Exchange, only three CEOs are female and out of the 102 CEOs of the State parastatals, there are only 15 female CEOs.”

Mukahanana said other issues of concern to the commission included increasing child marriages, high incidents of gender-based violence and sexual violence, high levels of maternal mortality, limited access to sexual reproductive health services including HIV and Aids.

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs chairperson Biata Nyamupinga said the committee would push that the commission gets enough funding through the national budget

“As a committee, we are going to do our job and make sure that gender equality issues are also considered when the newly-elected Finance minister Ignatius Chombo drafts the national budget, because this is a very important issue and we need money to achieve it,” she said.

Women Affairs and Gender ministry permanent secretary Sibusisiwe Zembe said the government had put measures to ensure that issues to do with gender-based violence were addressed.

“Some of the measures we have put in place include the enactment of the domestic gender-based violence act, the development of a National Based Violence Strategy based on the four pillars of gender-based violence, mainly prevention, service provision, coordination, research and documentation, setting up an inter-ministerial cabinet committee, establishment of a victim friendly force designed to protect vulnerable women, among other measures,” she said.