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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs