‘Women must support each other in politics’ (The Sunday Mail)

Fatima Bulla-Musakwa

THE Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) has launched a campaign to canvass women voters and aspiring female candidates to support each other, amid concerns of gender inequalities in the political field.

WALPE Executive Director Sitabile Dewa

Dubbed the 2,2 million Votes For Women From Women, the campaign comes against the backdrop of the dwindling number of women elected and appointed into leadership and decision-making positions.

As such, the campaign is focusing on increasing the number of women who will register to vote in the 2023 elections.

WALPE executive director, Ms Sitabile Dewa, said the campaign seeks to reverse historical and structural inequalities that inhibit women from occupying influential leadership positions.

“Through this campaign, WALPE intends to amplify women’s voices in politics and increase women representation in Parliament and local government.

“In order to reach the target of 2,2 million votes For women From Women, the organisation shall work with all interested actors including political parties, independent candidates, civil society and community based organisations (particularly those led by women), women rights organisations, traditional and religious leaders, high schools, tertiary institutions, the private sector and women MPs and councillors,” she said.

Despite women making up 52 percent of the population, the numbers have not reflected as such in key decision making and political leadership positions.

In addition, special measures like the Women’s Quota have only made room for women in Parliament while the gap remains yawning at local government and within party structures.

Zimbabwe Gender Commission chairperson, Mrs Margaret Sangarwe, said the gender gap obtaining in the political domain locally is unacceptable.

She noted that it was possible to canvass for 2,2 million votes for women for the upcoming 2023 elections as 2018 election statistics revealed that women represented 56 percent of the total ballots cast.

Zimbabwe Gender Commission chairperson Mrs Margaret Sangarwe

“Apparently there is an urgent need to redress the anomaly and commendably the campaign will go a long way towards increasing participation and representation of women in politics and decision-making positions,” Mrs Sangarwe said.

The commission has itself drafted a position paper that speaks to the equal representation and participation of women in politics.

The paper seeks to establish a road map that guarantees constitutional 50-50 representation of women in leadership positions and enhance participation of political aspirants from local governance level to the highest level.

It seeks Constitutional amendments to shift from the First Past the Post electoral system to a Proportional Representation system with people voting for political parties instead of candidates.

Zimbabwe has adopted the Proportional Representation system in the Senate where there is a 48 percent female representation out of the 80 senators.