WALPE Monthly Activity updates.

An aspiring woman leader receiving her certificate after the transformative leadership training.

i)WALPE engages Parliament over Sexual Harassment and Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW).

The Women’s Academy For Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) with support from Oxfam convened two breakfast meetings with parliamentarians and presented a model Sexual Harassment Bill to the portfolio committees on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development and the committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in Harare, on 18 October 2021.

The committee members shared lived experiences of sexual harassment that occurs in their families, communities, political parties and various spheres of influence. WALPE emphasized the need for a stand-alone sexual harassment bill which recognises abuses that occur in the private, public, formal and informal spaces.

The model sexual harassment bill was submitted to Parliament through the committees and the MPs committed among other things to do the following:

  • Move motions in Parliament pushing for a gender responsive sexual harassment bill.
  • Increase knowledge on sexual harassment in various public and private spheres such as the family, community, schools and political parties etc.
  • Capacitate traditional and religious leaders on the effects of sexual harassment and reporting structures.

On the second day; WALPE converged with the committees Local Government, Rural and Urban Development and, Women Affairs, Gender, Community and Enterprise Development to present and discuss its model policy on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW).

The organisation also presented its gendered social services budget proposal that prioritises health, education, water and sanitation, women empowerment, and energy which will feed into the ongoing national budget consultations accounting for 42% of the total expenditure projected for 2022 by the treasury. This budget proposal was submitted to Parliament and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for consideration.

It was agreed during the meeting that addressing critical social services would reduce the disproportionate burden of UCDW on women and girls and some of the key action plans were:

  • Parliamentarians would attend the national budget seminar and also move motions in Parliament for a gender responsive national budget that prioritises social services and reducing burden of UCDW on women.
  • Raising awareness in communities about the ongoing national budget consultative processes and encourage people to actively participate in outreach meetings by parliament.
  • Tracking the budget once allocations are made to ensure that they benefit women and girls.
  • Advocating for innovative solutions to reducing unpaid care and domestic work like use of solar energy and mechanisation of the agriculture sector.

ii) 40 national aspiring women leaders trained at Transformative Feminist Leadership Summer School (3rd Cohort).

The 3rd Cohort of the Transformative Feminist Leadership Summer School supported by Diakonia brought together 40 aspiring women leaders from the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe with different political, social and economic backgrounds vying for various public elected positions come 2023. This cohort of the leadership summer school ran from the 12th to 15th October 2021 and covered a range of activities and trainings aimed at enhancing their leadership skills so that they can effectively take up leadership positions at local and national level.

These aspiring women leaders drew a lot of lessons from the experiences that were shared by the various speakers at the school. Hon. Tatenda Mavetera shared about solidarity and movement building for women ahead of the 2023 harmonized elections and what needs to be done. Hon. Jasmine Tofa shared her leadership journey as a women politician in a men dominated field while Hon Joanna Mamombe relived her personal experiences relating to implications of violence against women in politics on young women. Hon. Marko Raidza who shared some of the tricks men play to win in elections at both intra and inter-party levels.

Content covered by the vigorous and intense training included capacity building, mentorship, and coaching process in Political career development, Introduction to feminism, Building and managing a campaign, Introduction to public service and volunteerism, Negotiation and consensus-building skills, Non-violent campaign strategies, Constituency outreach, and voter mobilization strategies, Introduction to climate change, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), Resilience building and social accountability, Public speaking and Mastering the art of convincing audiences, Etiquette and confidence building.

Besides the intensive trainings, the aspiring women leaders made time for bonfire discussions, game drives, morning physical exercises and a music gig where musician Tocky Vibes was the major highlight. WALPE will continue working with the alumni, harnessing their skills, offering them long-term mentorship and coaching until the 2023 elections in order to increase the number and quality of women who successfully run for public office. After completing the Feminist Transformative Leadership program, the aspiring women leaders received certificates of achievement which is proof of their newly acquired skills.

iii)Parliamentarians heed call for electoral reforms.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has pledged to back the Women Reform Network (WRN) to push for the implementation of outstanding electoral reforms that limit the full participation of women in leadership and decision-making processes ahead of the 2023 national elections.

Various members of the Committee that attended a breakfast meeting that was organised by WRN on 08 October, 2021 shared some of their experiences at political party level that were inhibiting their full and effective participation in electoral processes on account of their gender. The Women’s Reform Network (WRN) is a coalition of 25 women’s rights organizations and women-led Community Based Organizations with an interest in the integrity of electoral processes. The WRN a platform being coordinated by WALPE presented its position paper and some of the outstanding electoral reforms that were emphasized included the need for legal reforms to all relevant laws that ensures gender equality in the National Assembly, Local Authorities and other mainstream government structures.

Security Services were called upon to ensure a peaceful, free and fair election that safeguards the safety of women and the need for an efficient voter registration exercise and voters’ roll. The Network also highlighted the need for the media to afford equal coverage of women political candidates and refrain from partisan and hate rapportage against opinions and views opposed to those in control of the media.

Some of the pledges made by the parliamentarians include:

  • Committing to trace the progress and formulation of the Sexual Harassment Bill and raise motions in parliament and also capitalise on the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence to advance discourse on electoral reforms.
  • Conducting a committee hearing with the Minister of Home Affairs to enquire on progress in terms of voter registration and what plans they have put in place to ensure a smooth and effective registration process given the disruptions of COVID19 pandemic.
  • Pushing the #LetsGo5050 agenda in Parliament.
  • The WRN to develop a petition on outstanding electoral reforms which should be presented to Parliament and get the backing from the Committee.

iv)Belated International Day of Peace Celebrations.

As part of commemorating the International Day of Peace, a belated television programme was conducted by WALPE in partnership with Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) with support from the Netherlands Embassy on 30 September 2021. The TV programme was broadcast on BUSTOP TV Facebook with members of the Women Leadership Networks (WALANS) from Epworth, Chitungwiza, Murewa, Hwedza and Marondera stirring the conversation. These WALANs shared their previous experiences participating in leadership and electoral processes and how incidences of violence from the family, community to national level inhibited their full and effective participation. Further, they highlighted that the COVID19 induced lockdowns had exacerbated the scourge of domestic violence, and various other forms of violence at community and national level.

Building on this year’s theme of International Day of Peace which was “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world” the WALANs indicated some of the initiatives that they were implementing in their communities to alleviate and offer relief to victims of violence including:

  • Door-to-door awareness raising against gender based and various other forms of violence.
  • Referring victims of violence to organisations such as WALPE and WLSA for further management and assisting with filing police reports.
  • Setting up community working groups against violence with representatives that provide education and awareness against gender-based violence.

v)Radio and TV programme with Parliamentarians to tackle outstanding electoral reforms.

WALPE in partnership with WLSA with support from the Netherlands Embassy hosted a radio and television programme with parliamentarians on 30, October 2021, on Radio Zimbabwe and the BUSTOP TV Facebook platform to discuss what the legislators are doing in their respective communities and in parliament to have the issue of outstanding reforms addressed.

As panellists for the radio programme, WALPE invited Hon. Jasmine Toffa and Hon. Dexter Nduna while the TV programme discussion was led by Hon Daniel Molokele and Hon. Nicola Watson. The MPs highlighted some of the key challenges being faced by women in the road to 2023 elections which include lack of documentation, information and resources to effectively participate in the electoral processes as both candidates and voters. They implored that there was urgent need for various arms of government, especially legislature and the executive to align the Electoral Act to the Constitution to ensure that it complies with sections 17, 56 and 80 for gender equality to be attained.

NB: Kindly find attached i) a statement released by the Women Reform Network over increased cases of political violence against women, ii) WALPE model sexual harassment bill iii) WALPE dummy gendered national budget proposal, iv)WALPE call for applications for the transformative feminist leadership trainings in 8 districts.

CLICK here to download: i) Women Reform Network statement https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V4MvbqeEam1-FSS4ZMctW3WogE7XSgup/view?usp=sharing

ii) WALPE model sexual harassment bill https://drive.google.com/file/d/1W8YWkc8tn_rDOW0KvAiQFxuiTS28d08m/view?usp=sharing

iii)WALPE dummy gendered national budget proposal https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ADJ6GglKpuaUWLuEWECgMxG23jZiSflX/view?usp=sharing

iv) WALPE call for applications for the transformative feminist leadership trainings in 8 districts. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1t91nmDGyE8AdqTeESdda15E0mmiRKk7I/view?usp=sharing

#LetsGo5050               #LetsGo5050                                    #LetsGo5050