‘Political space should be open for women to freely participate’

Participation must be meaningful and effective and must include representation in the political arena

THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has embarked on a programme to interrogate various political parties’ constitutions to ensure they provided equal opportunities for aspiring female politicians.


Commissioner Sibongile Mauye said ZGC was concerned with gender equality and equal participation of men and women either as candidates or voters.

“During the pre-elections we are concerned about hindrances that deter women because they are the ones who have suffered and continue to suffer discrimination. We have found a number of issues being factors that lead to the hindrances which include intimidation, sexual violence among other issues,” she said.

Mauye said the commission was advocating for an increase in women players in the political arena to ensure equality.

“We want the playing field to be level in all political parties and as such we have been part of the dialogue between political parties and independent commissions to reduce or eliminate such violations being targeted at women in politics,” she said. This came after several women in politics, including former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who had a torrid time prior to her dismissal from Zanu PF and former MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe, who was reportedly roughed up by party youths in Buhera, claimed to have been discriminated against because of their gender.

Mauye said the commission has had a series of provincial dialogues where issues of free political participation of women as candidates have been raised.

“We found out that there are hindrances that women face as they try to enter the political space. Socialisation is one of them, sometimes even when space is given; it is not taken as those (women) in politics are not considered to be decent.”

Mauye said in previous elections there were reports of sexual violence, including rape or forced sexual relations.

“We are concerned about women’s issues across the political divide and we have been working all political parties and women’s coalition and other civil society organisations to ensure women are free to participate as candidates, voters or even workers in the election and when there are violations we will step in and recommend prosecution,” she said.

She urged women to report violations to the police to ensure justice is served.