Electoral reforms a prerequisite for women to fully participate in electoral processes

i) Women training and educational programme on the Electoral law and reforms.

Zimbabwe ushered in the year 2021 with a sharp upsurge in cases of COVID19 infections. This forced the Government to put the country under lockdown in a niche to control the spread of the virus. To date, (05-02-2021) 34 331 cases of COVID19 have been recorded in the country.

With the world moving more digital due to the pandemic, WALPE and its implementing partners is in the process of engaging women and enhancing their capacity to embrace and adjust to the new norm of doing things so that they won’t be left behind. The organisation has been training women in both rural and urban areas on how to utilise the virtual space. The aspiring women leaders are being assisted on how to join virtual platforms such as zoom, teams, skype, whatsapp calls and google meet. WALPE is also providing the women with airtime to purchase data so that they will be able to join the meetings and add their voice.

Between the 28th and 29th of January 2021, WALPE in partnership with Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) with support from the Netherlands Embassy held an online training and educational programme on the electoral law and reforms with aspiring women leaders from Epworth.

This came against a backdrop of outstanding electoral reforms which have inhibited women’s effective, active and full participation in electoral cycles and processes, including in leadership, developmental and other democratic practices.

40 women were trained and were all drawn from different wards in Epworth.  The core of the training was on electoral laws and the content included understanding the structure of elections in Zimbabwe, unpacking the electoral act, election administration and management, importance of electoral reforms, institutions targeted by reforms, conduct targeted by reforms and the outstanding electoral reforms.

Giving feedback, the participants were grateful for the knowledge impartation and vowed to join the movement of women advocating for the implementation of outstanding electoral reforms in preparation of the 2023 elections and beyond.

ii) Community advocacy sensitisation and awareness raising on disability rights, gender equality and social accountability.

On the 29th and 30th of January 2021, WALPE in partnership with Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) and Mutasa Youth Forum (MYF) with support from Christian Aid held an online training on community advocacy, sensitisation and awareness raising on disability rights, gender equality and social accountability.

50 participants were present for the online workshop and amongst them were eight duty bearers who include five traditional leaders, two religious leaders and two female councillors, representatives from the ministry of health and child care, an Agritex officer, four village health care workers, aspiring women and women with disabilities’ leaders, men and local business people.

During the meeting, the participants discussed why it is important for women and women with disabilities (WWDs) to occupy leadership and decision making positions. They crafted strategies of increasing the number of women and WWDs in leadership and decision making processes. They promised to be ambassadors for gender equality in their district including engaging other community members especially men to help in creating a conducive environment for women and WWDs’ participation in community development.

The participants were also taken through a training process on why it is important for them to promote social accountability, transparency and end all forms of corruption in Mutasa. Discussions on how corruption and lack of accountability is inhibiting grown and affecting the delivery of affordable and reliable public social services were made. It was agreed that women and girls do suffer more from poor public service provision and the participants took it upon themselves to advocate for good governance and an end to corruption