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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid