‘By-elections exposed parties’ gender biases’

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BY LORRAINE MUROMO
BY-ELECTIONS held last week exposed political parties for disregarding constitutional provisions regarding gender equality, women’s rights lobby groups have claimed.

According to statistics provided by the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (Wcoz), women constituted a mere 33,2% of the parliamentary candidates with their male counterparts accounting for 66,8%.

A brief comparison with the 2018 elections shows that the level of women’s participation as candidates for the direct National Assembly seats has remained stagnant. Addressing journalists during a review of the by-elections held on March 26, WCoZ national chairperson Evernice Munando said there was need to encourage political parties to field more women candidates.

“As WCoZ we intend to encourage political parties to address gender parity when fielding candidates.Fewer women candidates were nominated, showing that political parties are not adhering to the Constitution,” said Munando.

Women in Politics (Wipsu) director Sakile Sifelani Ngoma said: “It will be unfair to criticise the women who worked hard in the by-elections when in fact they were facing challenges from their parties to secure their candidates.”

She said Wipsu also noted that there was no deliberate effort by parties to assist women candidates.

“In some deeply disturbing instances where they were double candidates for a party, the party support did not go in favour of women candidates. Political parties need to put their money where their mouth is and demonstrate practical support for women in politics during the election cycle.”

Women’s Academy for Learning and Political Excelence director Stabile Dewa added: “It is disheartening that women continue to be sidelined in leadership positions. Political parties must be sincere in guaranteeing parity in all elected leadership positions.

“A deliberate effort must be made by parties to ensure they create a conducive environment for women to fully participate in electoral processes.”

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