WALPE Activity Update 06
i)Women continue to push for outstanding electoral reforms in Gutu
The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) under the Women for Electoral Reforms campaign conducted women led dialogues on electoral reforms with 50 women from Gutu ward 8 on August
The discussions focussed on how young women, women and women with disabilities can push for the full implementation of and enhance knowledge on what electoral reforms are, what they entail and how best women can advocate for their full implementation.
Following the dialogue, women present had a full appreciation of the outstanding reforms and stated that there was need for:
Adequate resource for campaigning as aspiring women leaders.
Laws and policies that protected them from cyber bullying and harassment, sexual harassment, violence and intimidation.
To have clear gender policies that afforded women equal opportunities to men.
ii)Male engagements continue drawing in gender champions across the country
On 13 August and 27 August 2022, WALPE with the aid of the ZESN under the #LetsGo5050 campaign hosted male engagement sessions in Gutu in Hopley respectively. 200 men of different age groups attended the day-long meetings.
The meetings which were conducted during pool, darts, draft and social soccer tournaments were done in a safe environment for the men to openly speak about issues of how to end all forms of violations against aspiring women leaders as well as outstanding electoral reforms and how they affect women’s full and active participation in leadership processes. The men also discussed how they can be involved in pushing for the implementation of the outstanding reforms.
Participants at the discussions noted how:
They felt threatened by women who aspired to become leaders
They felt uneasy to their wives, sisters and mothers aspiring to become leaders with all the
harassment, violence and bullying that comes with the leadership terrain
They feared their wives and partners would not respect them once they take up leadership or decision making roles in the community.
After the discussions, the men were more enlightened on the positive aspect of having women in leadership roles and pledged to support women in their communities who strived to become leaders.
iii)SADC Summit opens up on challenges CSO’s face in their countries
From 16 to 18 August 2022, WALPE attended the 42nd SADC Summit under the theme “Challenging extractivism and reclaiming our resources for people centered development” in Kinshasa, DRC. The summit was a safe space for civil society organisations from the SADC region to open up and table the major challenges that they are facing within their operating environments. These were then packaged together with demands which were submitted to Heads of State for review.
Countries with economies backed by mining such as Zimbabwe highlighted their major challenges such as corruption, poor working environments, lack of adequate hygiene facilities and little pay and highly inflated local currencies, budget deficits in the social service sectors which includes education and all-round poor governance.
Civil society organizations from Zimbabwe each presented on the key issues that their organisations tackle. These challenges ranged from economic instability, lack of state accountability and low state budgets for social services, violation of human rights, the shrinking democratic space for CSO activities, corruption, police and military brutality and weakening
WALPE presented its documentary on the research findings of the implications of the Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill to women across Zimbabwe as well as WALPE’s work and similar organisations. Furthermore, WALPE clarified on the effects the Bill has on steps taken by the organisation as well other CSO’s with an interest in gender mainstreaming, advocacy and lobbying for women and human rights.
Each organisation was sorted into a group with other CSO’s with similar interests and they crafted demands and recommendations which were share with every member present.
iv)Women demand 50-50 representation as per the Constitution at Transformative Feminist Leadership Solidarity Indaba
On August 25, 2022 WALPE in partnership with Women and Law Southern Africa-Zimbabwe (WLSA) and with the assistance of the Netherlands Embassy hosted the Transformative Feminist Leadership (TFL) Solidarity Indaba in Kariba.
The purpose of the TFL Indaba was to get insights into how prepared political parties are for impending primary elections and how they will adhere to provisions of the Constitution which states that there should be gender balance and inclusion of the youths in all leadership and decision
Participants were drawn from aspiring women leaders from across the country as well as representatives from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), ZANU PF, the Ministry of Women Affairs, the Zimbabwe Gender Commission as well as officials from civil society organisations such as
the Election Resource Centre and the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network.
WALPE Director Sitabile Dewa opened the Indaba with a presentation on the presentation on the history of women’s participation in politics and narrated how women have been historically under- represented in leadership positions since 1980.
Her presentation showed that when women from the major political parties are elevated to influential positions such as Joyce Mujuru and Thokozani Khupe, they are easily demoted and replaced by a man-further perpetuating their marginalisation in influential political positions.
The youth representatives from CCC and ZANU PF spoke of how lack of resources, police brutality, sexual harassment and a general lack of will from the main party members are some of the hindrances for them taking up leadership and decision making roles. The women came after and mentioned that they want parties to have women only constituencies and wards were they only contest against each other.
ERC Director Barbara Bhebhe said women candidates during primary elections are not supported as they are considered weak, while ZESN senior advocacy for electoral reforms officer Heather Koga said if political parties were registered, achieving gender equality would be achievable as they would be obligated to do so in their Constitutions. WLSA programmes coordinator Patricia Muganhiri emphasised the need for political parties to take a leaf from other countries’ strategies on achieving gender equality such as Rwanda.
Ministry of Women’s Affairs district development officer Kudzai Chidhume cited how women representation in politics has declined in the last two elections as well as how worrying it was for women’s leadership prospects in 2023. Zimbabwe Gender Commission commissioner Obert Matshalaga closed the Indaba with a presentation on how the Commission wants 50-50 and not proportional representation as it goes against the Constitution.
At the end of the Indaba it was suggested that:
Both parties should form an inter-party forum or council for women were they push for their issues as well as 50-50 to be achieved.
A joint statement by women from political parties be issued expressing their need for gender equality and the respect of the Constitution
Men should hold a separate indaba were they become gender champions were they campaign for and support gender equality.
All political party leaders should have a gender pledge were they will ensure that there is equal representation within their parties.
Women’s wings from the different political parties should work with the youth.
v)ZEC should reduce its fees for nomination of candidates as it disenfranchises aspiring women leaders
WALPE with assistance from ZESN hosted a TV programme on Bustop TV’s Facebook page with 4 aspiring women leaders under the title “The commercialization of electoral processes. ZEC nomination fees and their implications on aspiring women leaders’ participation in electoral processes.”
The main objective of the TV programme was to raise awareness on the implications and effects that the ZEC nomination fees have on aspiring women leaders.
Participants on the programme highlighted that the fees were extremely high, dampening the dreams and aspirations of ordinary and marginalized women in the community on becoming leaders as they could not afford the amounts required.
They went on to explain that women have the burden of Unpaid Care and Domestic Work as they are care givers with no income thus they will not be able to pay the requested amounts.
One woman said “the charges are inhibitive. The poor will not manage to pay and this means that political participation is now reserved for the rich.
Some explained that, women who are genuinely concerned about the development and welfare of their communities will be left behind because of the ZEC charges as the majority of them cannot afford the steep fees.
The women urged ZEC to re-evaluate the fees, while also asking for WALPE and other women organizations to help them lobby and advocate for the reduction of these nomination fees.
vi)Unpaid Care and Domestic Work needs to be recognised and included in National policies
From 29 August to 2 September 2022, the organisation monitored the public hearings on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW) that were conducted by the Parliament of Zimbabwe in Marondera, Mutare, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Gweru.
The public hearing were conducted after the Portfolio committee on Women’s Affairs, Communities, Small and Medium Enterprise Development had received a petition from the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) to recognise UCDW as an economic and development issue in the national agenda.
The hearings were well attended and all citizens who attended were given enough time to express their views. In all areas more women attended the hearings. A total of 692 citizens attended in all the 5 cities, with 565 being women.
Cross cutting issues that were raised in all the hearings were:
Electrification of rural homes, i.e provision of tsotso stoves, localization of solar companies and removal of duty on washing machines, dishwashers and biogas to enable time saved to be used on improving the women’s status.
Allocation of UCDW on the national budget
Re-introduction of feeding schemes in schools.
Formalisation of domestic care work such that domestic workers get pension benefits.
Introduction of social service grants for single mothers, pregnant women, senior citizens and orphans and community care workers.
Consistent disbursement of devolution funds to Rural District Councils to implement community projects that address UCDW.
Incorporate UCDW in workplace policies.
Grants to aid retired and incapacitated informal traders
Paternity leave for men to assist women with post-natal care.
Reduction of medical costs for pregnant women, children, senior citizens, widows and orphans.
Establishment and opening of children play centres in both urban and rural areas to relieve care givers and at market stalls for informal traders.
Inclusion of women in decision making positions at all levels
Provision of proper and adequate ablution facilities for street vendors
Importation of UCDW policies from developed countries.
Improve access to social services such as quality and affordable health care services, access to clean and safe water through establishing solar piped water schemes in communities to counter time spent at public water collection points.
Provide disability compensation for women and girls injured undertaking UCDW duties in the family institution.
Provide compensation or grants for women taking care of people living with disabilities.
Cost the UCDW in the national budget as contribution from unemployed women towards the Gross Domestic Product.
Minister of Finance must set up a budget to support women in the informal sector during humanitarian emergencies for example COVID-19 cushion funds.