Women call for 50:50 gender representation in elections

WOMEN in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) board chairperson, Vongai Chikwanda says women can make better councillors because they are hardworking, honest and committed to serving communities.

By VENERANDA LANGA

Chikwanda says this year’s general elections should usher in more women, as councillors, so that there is a 50-50 gender representation at local authorities.

The following are excerpts of an interview held by NewsDay Senior Parliamentary Reporter, Veneranda Langa (ND) with Chikwanda (VC) on issues of gender parity and local authority elections.

ND: Are women adequately represented in local authorities?

VC: There are a few women councillors in local authorities, but they sit in council committees like gender and welfare. These committees are traditionally for women, but we would like to see women getting into council committees such as the finance and audit, human resources and other technical committees. We want women to be visible and not relegated to the gender committee. It is not that we are undermining the gender committee, but the strategy is that if women are in the finance and audit and other technical committees their voices will be heard.

ND: Why are women relegated to committees such as gender in council, is it that they are not qualified for technical committees?

VC: I think it is based on discrimination because women are always asked if they qualify to hold positions, yet no one asks men if they are qualified for a position. Let us not use that old standard when it comes to women. They are already running things in communities and they have the skills. I believe that we have qualified women, who can hold technical jobs, but they are being discriminated against.

ND: What are the challenges faced by women, which have been deterring them from attaining 50:50 gender parity ratio in local authorities?

VC: The first challenge is the method used when fielding candidates. We need to field between 2 500 and 3 000 women candidates, if we are to achieve the 50:50 gender parity ratios in local authorities. The other challenge is that political parties assume that they appeased women by giving them the proportional representation seats in Parliament. I think that is wrong. Another problem is that political parties are patriarchal.

However, women can flourish at local authorities if we open up space for them. There is also political violence and intimidation during elections as well as social barriers, where women, who are not married are discriminated against and not voted for. But I would still say the biggest hurdles are at the political party level.

ND: What do you think should be done to ensure that women compete at the same level with men during elections?

VC: We should adopt Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote equality and emphasise that no one should be left behind. Therefore, political parties should not leave women behind. They must field women candidates and not be stuck on the 50:50 gender parity requirements.

They should level the playing field because the threshold set up for women is way above that used for men. There has to be commitment and proper strategic planning and roadmaps of how political parties are going to get to 50% gender parity. The proportional representation quota came in because of the Constitution, but still we have been failing to reach 30% female representation. As a country, we should be determined to reach 50%.

ND: Do you think there must be legislation to force political parties to field candidates using the 50% gender parity ratio?

Zimbabweans will go to polls next year

VC: There should be an initiative by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to ensure political parties field 50% female candidates in the spirit of the Constitution and equality.

Section 56 of the Constitution says we must ensure women are fielded as candidates. But all shenanigans happen at political party level. We must ensure laws are upheld in the spirit of the Constitution. Equality should be the basis of fielding candidates by every political party.

ND: What do you want to see happening in the 2018 general elections in terms of women participation?

VC: I want to see Zimbabwe adhering to the demands of 50% gender representation and equal participation of women in politics and decision-making. We want to see political parties fielding more women candidates.

It is not just about getting to 50%, but realising that the playing field is not equal and, therefore, we need more women candidates fielded. We need to adhere to gender protocols that we signed up for at international and regional conventions. We cannot use a different bar for women, or even say that we are much better than other African countries in gender representation as a consolation. We have to get to the standards that we committed to when we became signatories of gender protocols.

ND: What will be the advantages of having female councillors?

VC: The advantages are that women are not corrupt and the history of local authorities shows that women councillors are committed to human rights issues and development. Women are drivers of processes and they ensure there is progress in a number of things such as service delivery.

They are consumers of most of the services at local authorities like health and, so if they are in positions of power they will ensure that there is service delivery.

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11 Comments

  1. Sekuru Chaminuka

    Comment…Women should form their own political parties and aim for a 100% representation instead of complaining. When blacks started agigating for governance they discovered that joining white men parties was not the best strategy as these parties didnt serve their interests. Why go for a half loaf.

  2. You need to wait awhile as we are still smarting from the disaster by former First Lady Grace, she made a total mess of the image of women in politics in Zimbabwe and since we are still in control of the politics give us time to recover.

  3. I now dont believe in women leadership anymore. the chaps mix a lot of emotions in their leadership . they dont know how to separate business from personal . I once was under women leaderbut the result was disaster.

  4. Women have to relax a little. Grace showed how disastrous they can be if not reigned in. The Nigerian President will have some advice on this important matter.

  5. Mafuza Zvihuta Smallhouses

    Women are as stupid as black people. They never support their own. The even supported an illegal coup led by some crocodile.

    They refuse to vote for other women. I am a black man and only vote for black men. I dont understand why women dont vote for women

  6. l will never vote for a woman ask dlamini zuma,hillary clinton n l will never pay maintanance

  7. Who do you want take the opportunities from?Its a free country,vie for the posts with all your might if you deserve you get it.Zvemahara zvamunoda izvi ndoozvinokurovesai pasi pemuswe.

  8. Register as a candidate and we will see you there. If America said no to a Woman president, why should little Zimbabwe say yes. Idyai mari yemadonor munyerere tete!

  9. The world is coaxed into a quandary, if ever women believe they are better than men, then, why don’t they become a self-contained entity? Demanding for a 50-50 representation is out of tune because it super cedes the fair concept of merit. It is very disgustful to note that the quota system is a concept that decimates equality that the so-called women empowerment agents brag about. It is time men rise up to the occasion not to defend their status, but, to ensure that equality and merit become the backbone of the constitutional right that should form the basis of any development projections in our society. It is indeed, sexual discrimination to qualify one sex at the expense of the other when merit favors the discriminated one. Men lets wake-up and defend our sovereign right to any endeavors without fear of being discriminated against on the pretext of sex, i.e. our education system, especially, at tertiary level is, highly, compromised, predominantly, by the quota system that allows enrolment on courses that are based not on merit, but, by sex.

  10. Its about merit not reserving seats like what they do now, if women are that good then obviously you will be voted for not zve represantation muchitadza kubika kumba, WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE ROLE OF AN AFRICAN MOTHER…makuda kukweshana

  11. Were you stopped from competing on equal basis with men? At what point? You want to give a wrong image when you have been all along hesitant and legging behind in doing anything be it politics, business, academia you name it! Now whom are you calling 50:50 from? Just enter the market like any other person and compete from A to Z. We want you to get something on merit, not on gender, sexual oriantation, colour, relegion and so forth. Thats nonsense!

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