WALPE Activity Update 04
i)WALPE petitions political parties on the need for 50/50 representation in Parliament, Senate and Local Government positions.
The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence petitioned the Presidents of all major political parties to field an equal number of women and men in the upcoming 2023 elections and beyond. The petition comes after the Academy noticed that having a high number of registered voters, women candidates that participated and won in the 26 March By-elections were less than 20 percent for both local government and legislative elections.
The Academy noted that despite having provisions in the Constitution that clearly provide for gender equally in all sectors and spheres, the elections were poorly represented by women.
As such WALPE urged all political parties to:
Adhere to the dictates of the Zimbabwe national Constitution in particular sections 17,56 and 80 which calls for gender equality.
Uphold their organisational constitutions, manifestos and policies that promote gender equality.
Formulate and implement policies and strategies that capacitate women with various leadership skills and techniques to boost their confidence to fully participate in electoral processes as both candidates and voters.
Intensify resource mobilisation for women who wish to participate in leadership positions.
Increase and guarantee security for women who wish to run for public office.
Commit to end all forms of violence against women in politics and punish
perpetrators including barring them from contesting for any leadership position.
ii)Keep the environment clean while encouraging people to register to vote and vote for a woman
As part of efforts to keep Harare clean, WALPE with support from the Embassy of the Netherlands and in partnership with Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA)Zimbabwe installed 10 refuse bins across the city centre at five of the major public transport ranks.
The move was to ensure that people and especially women who operate informal trading markets at the ranks, can have a place to throw away garbage and keep their area clean.
City of Harare Acting Director of Works Engineer Karidza welcomes the development and applauded the Academy and its partners for taking into consideration issues of environmental management and sustainability. He encouraged WALPE to continue on their path to environmentally friendly initiatives such as spearheading for a clean city that can be restored to its former Sunshine City status.
Some of the informal traders that WALPE spoke to thanked the Academy for their considerate work and encouraged others to do the same thing “It’s not every day that you find organisations coming to the aid of informal traders in such a way. We are every grateful as this will allow us to work in an environment that is clean and healthy”.
iii)There is need for a broader Sexual Harassment Bill in Zimbabwe
On May 4 2022, WALPE submitted a petition to the Parliament for the country to have a comprehensive Sexual Harassment Bill to be enacted. This came after Government introduced a Sexual Harassment Policy for the workplace, which was however silent on sexual harassment in public spheres and other facets of society. The current policy on sexual harassment was committed to by Government to ensure a conducive public service workplace environment free from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse. It was brought about with the intention of protecting the dignity of workers in the public service and provide maximum work productivity and effective service delivery. The current policy is underpinned by the following principles:
To combat sexual harassment in the Public Service.
To provide a safe working environment that is free from sexual harassment.
To support diversity and inclusive work practices.
To put in place, mechanisms for redress in case of sexual harassment in the Public Service.
To inform all members that if allegations of sexual harassment are levelled and substantiated against them, they are liable for such actions.
It against this background that advocacy and lobbying by civil society organizations, churches, women and other concerned groups that a petition for a stand-alone broader Sexual Harassment Act was submitted.
The petition appeals to Parliament to:
Enact an all-inclusive and stand-alone sexual harassment that take place in both private and public spheres including at the workplace, schools, tertiary institutions, in politics, in queues, boreholes, public transport ranks, vending sites etc.
Put in place a clear and broader definition of sexual harassment (SH) and clear punitive measures for perpetrators of both light and grave offenses including imprisonment of perpetrators.
Make sure the Act has a clause which bars perpetrators of sexual harassment in political parties from ever occupying public office.
Make it mandatory for political parties to adopt the Sexual Harassment Act once made into law and ensure all their political party members are made aware of it and the consequences of violating it to ensure the protection of women political activists across the country.
The petition also called for clear and concise regulations that protect women candidates throughout the electoral cycle as they are sexually harassed as a means to demotivate and deter them from occupying leadership positions.
iv)WALPE tours Rwanda on women leadership and gender equality exchange visit
WALPE together with WLSA visited Republic of Rwanda from 18- 22 April, 2022 for an exchange visit on how they can attain gender equality in leadership and decision-making positions. The visit attracted Zimbabwean delegates from the Zimbabwe Gender Commission as well as two delegates each from ZANU PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
According to the Global Competitiveness Report, Rwanda is ranked the best place to be a woman in Africa and 6th globally. The East African country is ranked 7th in the world and 1st in Africa in terms of promoting gender equality through its progressive gender equality laws, policy frameworks and programmes. After the 1994 genocide that killed millions of people
mostly men, the women who were left behind used the genocide as a tool to rebuilding the nation.
Today, 61% of its Parliamentarians are women and though a bit lower even at local government the percentage of women in influential positions is rising toward the 30% minimum. According to the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, women were amongst the people that fought so hard to end the genocide so it was only right they became part of building Rwanda thus they have been involved in everything to do with the country’s restoration.
During the week-long visit, the Zimbabwean delegates had meetings with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, the Rwanda Gender Monitoring Office, the National Women’s Council of Rwanda, the Rwanda women Parliamentarian Forum, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Profemmes Twese Hamwe, the Mayor of Muhanga District, the National Consultative Forum of Political Organisations and the National Electoral Commission.
The delegates learnt that:
A strong lobby was needed to strengthen institutions that support gender parity
Parliament needed to introduce a gender equity platform which is inclusive of both men and women.
A national agreement to expedite the realization of 50/50 gender parity aspirations of the national Constitution.
National Dialogue on Gender Equality was needed.
To build systems in political structures that sincerely endeavour to realise gender equality rather than pay lip service to this important socio-economic factor.
Look into the educational curricular so as to cultivate a positive mindset towards gender equality
Establish stronger contact with Rwanda to get more influence in East Africa
The Zimbabwe delegates went on to recommend that:
There is need for political will from the highest office to the lowest in order to fully promote and attain gender equality.
There is urgent need to align all the gender equality provisions in the Constitution (section 17, 56 and 80) with the Electoral Act in order to empower ZEC to reject political party lists that do not reflect gender balance during elections.
The Government must avoid piecemeal legislation to gender equality but must be sincere in the quest to promote parity in all leadership and decision-making positions.
There is serious need to consider changing the electoral system from first past the post to proportional representation as the latter guarantees gender balance.
The Government must put in place a stand-alone Sexual Harassment Act that will incorporate violence against women in politics in order to deal with the scourge of violence against women political activists.
To put in place monitoring and evaluation measures to monitor all institutions to adhere to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The Ministry of Finance must guarantee gender responsive budgeting and put in place all necessary monitoring and compliance mechanisms.
Establishment of the Gender Monitoring Officer which will work closely with the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to monitor gender equality in both public and private entities.
Formulation and implementation of Political Party Code of Conduct that will regulate the behaviour of political parties so as protect women from violence and abuse in politics.
v)Gwanda aspiring women leaders are ready to participate as candidates in 2023 elections and beyond
WALPE embarked on a Transformative Feminist Leadership training in Gwanda with 120 women from 11-12 May. Areas that were covered were wards 4,6 and 8 in Gwanda urban and wards 17 and 20 in Gwanda rural. The aim of the training was to increase the number and quality of women participating in and influencing electoral processes as both candidates and voters by 2025.The trainings were very informative and with the aid of a translator conversant in isiNdebele, the proceedings were interactive. During the two-day period, the team noted that the community was highly patriarchal which made it difficult to enforce feminist principles however the team took them through the process and they understood the urgent need for women’s participation.
Participants after the training felt challenged to change the status quo and are now ready to assume political and public offices ahead of the 2023 elections. However, one of the inhibiting factors to women’s participation in leadership, in Gwanda was the lack of financial capacities and literacy. Boosting the financial capacities of women aspiring leaders will allow them to participate meaningfully in leadership and decision-making processes