WALPE Monthly Activity updates.
Some of the trained aspiring women leaders from Masvingo posing with their certificates of completion..
i)WALPE and ERC launch 2023 Diaspora Election Campaign
ZIMBABWEANS in the Diaspora have been urged to unite and use their economic influence back home to encourage their relatives to participate in electoral processes as the nation gears for the 2023 general elections. This was said by expert Zimbabwean speakers in the Diaspora during the virtual launch of the Home/Kumusha/Ekhaya Vote Connect Launch by the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) in partnership with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) on September 15, 2021.
The campaign aims to mobilise 3 million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to demand their right to vote and influence their families to participate in democratic and electoral processes. In addition, the campaign will also facilitate flow of accurate and verified information to demystify any myths or threats of violence and intimidation that might discourage their relatives back home from participating in elections.
Speakers at the launch were Mr. Kumbirai Chipadza, the founder and chief executive officer of Deutsch Connect in Germany, Mr. Dewa Mavhinga the Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch in the United Kingdom, Mr. Denis Juru the International Cross Boarder Traders Association President in South Africa, Dr Praise Matemavi, a transplant surgeon at Rose Gift Foundation in USA, Ms Nobuhle Ajiti, a South African human rights activist, Zimbabwe Diaspora Voices Executive Director, Ms Florence Madzivire based in USA and Advocate Gabriel Shumba, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Chairperson, who resides in South Africa.
The speakers touched on a number of issues such as the importance of women participation in elections and electoral processes, legal provisions relating to the diaspora vote, the influence of the Diaspora community on Zimbabwe’s socio-economic affairs and mechanisms to increase participation of those in the Diaspora in electoral processes back home in the run-up to the 2023 elections. Further, the insightful discussions shed light on existing provisions for a postal vote which is currently limited to diplomatic staff and their spouses and must be expanded to benefit every Zimbabwean in the diaspora.
Sections 35, 56 and 67 of the Constitution were identified as some of the legal provisions guaranteeing the full enjoyment of electoral rights by every Zimbabwean including those in the diaspora. The need for the Diaspora to stand as a united front and encourage each other not only to register to vote but join political processes was also emphasized as part of the strides towards lobby and advocacy for full enjoyment of their rights as the ‘11th Province of Zimbabwe.’
The discussion noted that women faced the brunt of struggles for survival in the Diaspora and should play an active role in mobilizing their relatives in Zimbabwe to participate throughout the electoral cycle. Women are the majority of Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora and contribute over 50% of remittances giving them a greater advantage of numbers to influence their folk back home to actively participate in political processes for their concerns and issues to be heard and addressed.
All the speakers concurred that there was need to create forums to discuss issues on elections using Social Media and family platforms. They also spoke on the need to take the conversation international to gain traction in international bodies. Diaspora was also urged to give accurate information to their families around elections so as to guard against any intimidation, lies and threats of violence which may be used as a tool to instill voter apathy. The forums will also ensure that families are confident of their security and rights as they participate in electoral processes.
ii) 2.2 million Votes for Women From Women 2023 elections campaign gather momentum
These are some of the women who were assisted to get IDs by the consortium and went further to register as voters.
Women first-time voters continue to be added to the voters roll courtesy of the WALPE’s 2.2 Million Votes for Women from Women 2023 election campaign. To date, a total of 184 women from Mutasa rural have registered as first-time voters adding to the number of women that are going to cast their ballot in the 2023 national plebiscite. The campaign aims to engage and mobilise 2.2 million women across the country to vote for women candidates in the 2023 elections so as to increase the quantity and quality of women leaders. This campaign seeks to address the challenge of underrepresentation of women in elected and appointed leadership and decision-making positions such as councillors, Members of Parliament (MPs), cabinet ministers or other high-level government positions.
iii)WALPE, DZT and MYF talk women leadership on radio Zimbabwe.
WALPE, Mutasa Youth Forum and Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) with support from Christian Aid took to the airwaves and led a discussion on the importance of having more women in leadership and decision-making positions during a 30-minute slot on Radio Zimbabwe on 11 September 2021.
WALPE in consortium with DZT and Mutasa Youth Forum implemented the Women Empowered for Participation in Development (WEPD) in Mutasa district. The objective of the project was to capacitate women, young women and women with disabilities (WWDs) to take up leadership positions from community to national level. The consortium conducted a radio program to deliberate on the project success. The three organizations took turns to share the success stories brought about by the project in all the eight wards it was implemented. These include the increase in number of women and WWDs taking up community level leadership positions and bringing duty bearers to account in regards to social service delivery in their respective communities.
The consortium also conducted two television programs that were beamed live on Bustop TV. The Mutasa Women Leadership Networks (WALANs) led discussions on Setting the tone for women leadership and community development in Mutasa district and Fostering women participation in leadership and decision-making processes for accountability and transparency. The WALANs highlighted some of the challenges that they faced in their leadership journey which include patriarchy, lack of financial resources and among other factors. However, after successful implementation of the WEPD project, the WALANs had their confidence, knowledge and skills enhanced and now occupy influential community leadership positions.
iv) 50 WeCOB members trained in Value Addition, Branding and Access to Markets.
The WALPE conducted a capacity building training in Value Addition, Branding and Access to Markets on 8, September 2021 with support from Oxfam to equip aspiring women leaders with the necessary skills and knowledge required to enhance their businesses and business ideas. The training was attended by 50 members from the Network of Women- led Community Based Organizations (WeCOBs), a brainchild of WALPE created to coordinate women- led CBOs. The participants were drawn from all the ten provinces of Zimbabwe. Some of the participants have since received small income generating projects to boost their businesses which were affected by the COVID19 pandemic. Economic empowerment is key to women’s full participation in leadership and decision making processes.
v) 320 aspiring women leaders trained in Transformative Feminist Leadership.
A series of virtual trainings of women aspiring leaders in Transformative Feminist Leadership were conducted for Seke, Chitungwiza, Epworth, and Masvingo Rural on the zoom platform between 31 August and 5 September 2021 with support from the Netherlands Embassy and Diakonia respectively. The women were equipped with knowledge on Political Career Development, Building and Managing a Campaign, Introduction to Public Service and Volunteerism, Non-Violent Campaign Strategies, Introduction to Climate Change, Resilience Building and Social Accountability and Feminism.
The women successfully managed to log onto the zoom platform embracing the new norm of utilizing social media as a means of effective communication. This is also important for women aspiring leaders to build their confidence and build their brands especially for those contemplating running for public office in the 2023 elections as they are acquiring important digital skills. The trainings enhanced their knowledge and skills on political leadership and how to successfully run for public office especially in the 2023 general elections.
vi) WALPE hosts National Indaba on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW).
Women Rights Organisations (WROs), women-led community-based organizations (WeCOBs) and youth groups converged in Harare on 21 September, 2021 with support from Oxfam to deliberate on an Unpaid Care and Domestic Work Policy Brief developed by WALPE so that their contributions and recommendations can also be considered in the final document which will be submitted to Parliament. The women shared their lived experiences on how issues of UCDW affect them both in the informal and formal sectors adding how it has limited their participation in business, politics, education, leadership and decision-making processes. They also made recommendations of what policy makers must consider towards, reduction, redistribution, recognition and improved representation in UCDW. WeCOBs which are operating in rural areas shared that they faced challenges in creating dialogue around UCDW with women since most of these areas are deep rooted in patriarchy which pose resistance to efforts towards addressing UCDW.
Some of the recommendations made include:
· The need for local and national budget to be gender responsive and prioritize service delivery issues like public transport, health, water, education etc
· The national budget consultation processes should be done at a time conducive for women to also attend and allow women, women with disabilities to participate so that their demands are captured in the budgets. The consultation process should be decentralised and ministry department offices must be used for consultation processes.
· The need for a legislative framework that mandates the parliament and Ministry of Finance to allocate grants specifically towards UCDW.
· Mainstreaming of UCDW in schools and curriculums and have programs that ensure gender balance at an early stage. Even the teachers need training on how to train children.
·Making use of machinery that ease the burden of UCDW. Investment in time-saving technology and infrastructure.
vii) WRN petitions Parliament and Government over 30% women’s quota.
Under the Women Reform Network (WRN) which is a coalition of 25 women rights organisations (WROs) and women-led community-based organisations (WeCOBs), WALPE led the development of petitions that were submitted to Parliament and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works Honourable July Moyo against his pronouncement for a 30% women quota in local authorities. The quota will see an additional 587 women councillors being given local authorities’ seats adding onto the existing 1958 seats.
The WRN is against the proclamation because is against constitutional provisions for gender equality in elected and appointed positions as enshrined in Sections 17, 56 and 80. WRN also asserts adding more seats will bleed the national fiscus such that if the 30% quota is to be put in place it ought to be within 1958 existing local authority seats.
viii) A stand-alone Sexual Harassment Bill proposal a step in the right direction.
The WALPE welcomes reports indicating that a joint Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is considering putting in place a stand-alone Sexual Harassment Bill. The current legal framework does not address sexual harassment which occurs the public, private, political and social spheres, and its various forms. The proposed Bill will help address these disparities and provide protection for women and girls in public and private including various informal market places.
This will ensure active, effective and full participation of women in leadership and decision making processes. The WALPE is also in the process of developing a Model Bill on Sexual Harassment to be tabled before Parliament for possible consideration.
NB: Kindly find attached a statement released by 5 women’s rights organisations condemning the harassment of Ms Marry Chiwenga and also two petitions submitted to Parliament and the Ministry of Local Government regarding the local Government 30% quota.
CLICK HERE to read full statements:
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