As we commemorate International Women’s Day running under the theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” ZESN calls on all electoral stakeholders, the government and traditional leadership to end the exclusion and marginalization of women and girls in governance processes in Zimbabwe. International Women’s Day comes at a time when the country is making strides to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and women are bearing the brunt as they are at risk of transmission from care giving with some not even being able to take care of themselves when sick leading to fatalities.
ZESN notes with concern that notwithstanding the legislative framework to ensure gender equality and equity as well as gender mainstreaming in electoral processes to enhance women’s participation in democratic governance processes, Zimbabwe has not yet achieved equal representation in public office including the Presidium and other decision making positions. Political parties are also genderblind in their composition as there are no measures in place to ensure they adhere to the Constitutional dictates for their appointments and candidate selection. Furthermore, there are barriers that women face such as physical, verbal, cyber, emotional and sexual abuse which discourage participation in democratic electoral and governance processes.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for the government to take stock of the implementation of a plethora of domestic laws, regional and international conventions and protocols on according women equal opportunities in governance processes. Women’s Day comes at a time when ZESN and other CSOs are also lobbying government and political parties to increase women’s representation in the government and participation as political candidates as a way of empowering women to achieve gender parity. This is important because when women do not express their voice or participate fully, their needs will remain unattended to and society as a whole falls short of realising its full potential.