Gender parity elusive: Gezi

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi has said the 50/50 gender representation remains elusive despite several efforts by the government to address the issue.

BY SIMBARASHE SITHOLE

Officially opening the third Zimbabwe National Gender Forum workshop in Mutare yesterday, Gezi said women’s empowerment and equal access to leadership positions was a key requirement for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The United Nations statistical evidence referred to above, clearly shows that 50-50 gender parity is still far away from being achieved, yet women’s empowerment and equal access to leadership positions is a key requirement for achieving SDGs,” Gezi said.

“Advocacy and lobbying should continue to cultivate the adequate necessary political parties to increase women representation. I encourage all participants to make their contribution at this forum as we lay a roadmap towards 50-50 in Zimbabwe.”

The Deputy Speaker noted that the exclusion of women in developmental programmes hampered community development.

“The cost of excluding women in development programmes is well documented, women political exclusion denies communities a huge potential for growth, the world will only improve if women expand their role as political, economic, family and social leaders,” she said.

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“The former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, once said, ‘The world will never realise 100% of its goals if 50% of its people cannot realise their full potential. When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all’.”

The Woman’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) chairperson Siphathisiwe Moyo handed a petition on 50/50 gender representation to the Deputy Speaker, which was signed by 1 000 women across the country.

Zimbabwe Gender Commission chief executive Virginia Muwanigwa said consultations revealed that there were many gender-related barriers that stood in the way of women empowerment.

“The systematic and gender-related barriers were noted as follows; negative perception of the leadership capabilities of women, including by other women; socialisation of women to not seek public offices; tolerance of political violence; lack of resources to conduct aggressive political campaigns; discriminatory policies and practices within political parties relegating women to public relations seats and political parties’ use of women as voters rather than as serious contenders for power,” Muwanigwa said.

The national gender forum, which is being held under the theme Consolidating the Strategies: Laying the Roadmap for Getting 50:50, ends today.

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