News / Africa

Zimbabwe’s Women Say They Still Lag Behind in Political Arena

FILE - Zimbabwe political supporters wave flags in Gutu, a rural town 220 Km's southeast of the capital Harare.
FILE - Zimbabwe political supporters wave flags in Gutu, a rural town 220 Km's southeast of the capital Harare.
Zimbabweans go to the polls July 31 under a new constitution that some hoped would bring more women into politics. But, some women say the road to gender equity in Zimbabwean politics is a long one.  
 
Zimbabwe’s 2012 census shows that women comprise 52 percent of the population. But that demographic is not reflected in the political arena.
 
Many women were hoping the new constitution, which came into effect in May, would encourage more women to run.  The document provides new legal protections for women - such as equal rights in the workplace and land rights.
 
But feminists say the constitution falls short of ensuring that the country meets the goal of 50 percent political representation by 2015 as mandated by the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development.
 
Virginia Muwanigwa, the chairwoman of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe, said the constitution added 60 seats to the 210-seat parliament that were to be reserved for women -  and that is far short of what they wanted.
 
“What the people asked for during the constitution-making process is 50-50. That translates to gender equality. We know we have the 60 seats reserved in parliament [under the new constitution] but that was never what we were looking for," Muwanigwa said. "We were looking for a reconstitution of seats in parliament to be able to say: if it is 210 seats in parliament, then at least 105 of those seats are [for] women. So we are not happy.”
 
But there are other obstacles to women in politics, said Sally Dura, a gender activist with the Women’s Youth Forum in Zimbabwe. 

“To level the ground, it is about a number of factors; it is about finding a way to ensure that women have resources, it is about lobbying the government that resources released under the Political Finances Act there be a clause to ensure that there is an allocation for women candidature,” she said.

Generally, women in Zimbabwe lag behind in terms of finances that are needed for campaigning.
 
But Jessie Majome, deputy minister for women’s affairs, said the landscape has improved for women under this new charter.  
 
The constitution was supported by both parties in the ruling coalition and approved in national referendum.
 
Majome, who was also the spokeswoman of the government-appointed parliamentary committee which wrote Zimbabwe’s new constitution, says it will take some time to catch up - even possibly for a woman to become president down the road.
 
“It is difficult to tell because of the political dynamics of Zimbabwe. It depends on how people will vote [in future]," said Majome. "Clearly, we are not going to have a female president in the first republic after the [new] constitution.  But who knows after the second, the third and subsequent terms, but certainly not this time.”
 
Politics at the highest level has been dominated by one man: President Robert Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe for more than 30 years.
 
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change will lock horns in a contest to end the country's power-sharing government, which was formed in 2009 following a disputed election.
 
With this power struggle overshadowing the election, the issue of political power for women appears to be taking a back seat.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More