Letters to the Editor

Aspiring women leaders excelling in social entrepreurship projects

AS part of its goal to enhance women’s political participation, the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (Walpe) provided seed funding for small income-generating projects to aspiring women leaders trained in transformative feminist leadership and social entrepreneurship.

The women leaders are undertaking various projects which include poultry rearing, running a bakery and buying and selling various household goods.

Some of the beneficiaries have managed to revolve their funds every three months to enable other women aspiring leaders to benefit and create sources of income. The income-generating projects (IGPs) have been functional since November 2020.

The beneficiaries were also trained on how to produce washable face masks and hand sanitisers, which have been instrumental in combating the spread of COVID-19 in their
communities.

A research conducted by Walpe in 2019 revealed that the participation of women in politics was being limited by lack of funds to facilitate political campaigns hence the need to give them an economic boost.

Women are also bearing the brunt of the impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the economy as the burden of unpaid care and domestic work weigh heavily on them, hence the IGPs are helping in cushioning them and improving their livelihoods.

Some of the achievements recorded thus far:

  • Improved sources of income for beneficiaries which has resulted in raised standards of living at family level.
  • Women aspiring leaders are more visible in community development activities and actively and confidently participating in political leadership and decision-making processes.
  • Improved management of political campaigns.
  • Improved management of the COVID19 pandemic in their respective communities-Walpe

 

Women participation in political leadership remains low

IN Zimbabwe, women’s representation in political leadership remains low, despite the introduction of a women’s quota in 2013.

To address this, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission in partnership and with support from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWomen), has developed the initiative Women Rise in Politics (WRiP) for aspiring women candidates.

The programme is designed to be continuous and is meant to train women candidates aspiring for political careers.

The participants will be attached to specific women mentors to assist them with practical guidance and leadership.

The initiative, which will kick-start in the third quarter of 2021, will draw participants from political parties in Zimbabwe as well as independent candidates.

The programme will be premised on the principle of inclusivity and, therefore, young women, women living in rural areas, women with disability, women with HIV, among others, are especially encouraged to apply. More information on the selection criteria and priorities can be found on https://www.zgc.co.zw/download/1449.

The broad objectives of this programme are to:

  • Create a large pool of women candidates who are ready to contest for elective posts in the 2023 harmonised elections and beyond;
  • Provide knowledge, skills, and competencies that will enable aspiring women candidates to effectively participate in political decision-making processes;
  • Increase representation and participation of women in politics;
  • Change the perception around gender and leadership effectiveness; and
  • Ensure more inclusive and gender-responsive electoral processes.

The programme, which targets the 2023 national elections and beyond, has been necessitated by the decrease in the participation and representation of women in the recent past national elections.

Women do not only constitute around 52% of the total population, but are also the majority of voters in Zimbabwe.

Despite these facts, women hold only 23% of elective parliamentary seats, 13,3% of local government seats and 48% in the Senate.

These statistics are an affront to the aspirations of Zimbabweans for full gender equality (50-50) as captured in the Constitution.

Regional and international normative frameworks such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, and the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, call for an enabling environment for developing and strengthening women’s capacity to build their confidence, resilience and coping mechanisms necessary to participate in political leadership.

From a gender perspective, the political environment in Zimbabwe is highly toxic and polarised as systemic barriers to the participation and representation of women are widespread.

The country’s political domain is infested with gender intolerance which often manifests in violence, name calling, body shaming, sexual exploitation, harassment, stereotyping and systemic exclusion — predominantly against women.

It is these negative practices that have hindered meaningful participation and representation of women in politics other than as voters.

It is against this unfortunate background that the Commission, in conjunction with UN Women and other development partners, initiated the Women Rise in Politics initiative – Zimbabwe Gender Commission

 

Let’s preserve values of peace, healing, freedom, unity and protection of human rights

ON July 18, the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) joined the rest of the world in commemorating Nelson Mandela International Day.

This day is commemorated to pay tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela’s dedication to the service of humanity in conflict resolution, promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, and the promotion of social justice.

The commemoration of this day acknowledges Mandela’s contribution to the struggle for democracy and social justice in the face of the apartheid system which was based on racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa, and, indeed, in other countries within the sub-region.

This year, the day was celebrated under the theme One Hand Can Feed Another. This theme is particularly relevant in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has not only caused millions of deaths but has also negatively affected livelihoods.

The theme, therefore, was a call to the people of the world to work together to tackle food insecurity. According to the World Food Programme, the number of people who are unable to put food on their table in Zimbabwe’s urban areas has increased from 30% in 2019 to 42% in 2021.

The NTJWG urges the government to take leadership amid this crisis and provide relief to people who are facing food insecurity.

The NTJWG also calls on the people of Zimbabwe to assists each other in whatever way they can to fight food insecurity.

As the world celebrates this day, it is important to bear in mind the following words by Mandela: “For our freedom can never be complete or our democracy stable unless the basic needs of our people are met. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom”.

Tackling food insecurity is a key aspect of poverty reduction. Food security-related interventions enhance social cohesion, address root causes and drivers of conflict and generate peace dividends.

This culminates in the prevention and mitigation of violent conflicts and contributes to more sustainable peace through the creation of an environment that is conducive to dealing with the violent past to guarantee non-recurrence.

The NTJWG, therefore, urges government, human rights organisations, humanitarian organisations, faith-based organisations, and the people of Zimbabwe to commemorate this day by striving to preserve the values of peace, healing, freedom, unity, and protection of human rights that Mandela dedicated his life to.

This is possible through working together guided by the tenet of ubuntu to tackle food insecurity among other issues that plague the nation-NTJWG

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