WALPE and LTI Address Concerns of Women Security during Elections

Empowering Women in Zimbabwe: Addressing Security Concerns in the Election Landscape

Zimbabwe, a country with a rich history and a unique cultural fabric, is once again at a crossroads as it negotiates the complexity of its political landscape. The country’s impending elections in August 2023 not only constitute a watershed moment for its population but also highlight the importance of addressing women’s security issues in a typically harsh electoral atmosphere.

Historically, elections have been marred by acts of violence and intimidation, disproportionately hurting vulnerable groups, particularly women. Recognizing this, efforts are underway to build a more inclusive and secure environment for all people, with a special emphasis on women. In this context the Woman Academy Leadership and Political Excellency (WALPE) in collaboration the Living Together Institute (LTI) organized a consultative meeting with young women groups in rural Buhera Chawatama village and Mondoro to better understand the challenges that women face during election seasons and develop long-term solutions to address their concerns.

Women in rural areas, as in many other parts of the country, have distinct hurdles during election campaigns. Physical assault, sexual harassment, and societal biases are just a few of the obstacles faced. The hostile environment that frequently surrounds elections exacerbates these issues, making it critical to address them fully. To address these difficulties, the participants proposed the following proposals, which focus on both preventive measures and supportive mechanisms to provide a safer atmosphere for women to participate effectively in the democratic process.

  1. Increased Police Presence and Rapid Response Teams: To counter instances of violence, there has been a call for increased police presence at polling stations, along with the establishment of rapid response teams equipped to handle any security breaches promptly.
  2. Public Awareness Campaigns: Education plays a crucial role in transforming societal attitudes. Public awareness campaigns targeting both men and women seek to challenge stereotypes and promote a culture of respect and equality within the electoral context.
  3. Women’s Empowerment Programs: Empowering women economically and socially is fundamental to their security. Initiatives such as skills training, access to education, and economic opportunities aim to uplift women, making them less susceptible to intimidation.
  4. Collaboration with International Organizations: Partnerships with international organizations and bodies focused on women’s rights contribute to the exchange of best practices and the implementation of strategies that have proven successful in similar contexts.
    As Zimbabwe prepares for its forthcoming elections, the country is at a critical juncture where addressing women’s security issues is not just a question of justice, but also a requirement of the democratic process. By creating an atmosphere that promotes the safety and inclusion of all citizens, Zimbabwe may pave the path for a more dynamic and representative democracy. The success of these measures is dependent not just on policymakers’ commitment, but also on the active participation of civil society, communities, and individuals in promoting a culture of respect and equality. Ultimately, the creation of a safe and empowering election environment for women would demonstrate Zimbabwe’s dedication to democratic values and human rights.