ZIMBABWE Gender Commission (ZGC) has called on government to ensure that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) is empowered to enforce gender balance in elections.

Failure to enforce gender equality in elections has resulted in only 25 women being elected as legislators in the National Assembly in addition to the 60 proportional representation posts, ZGC pointed out.

In its report on a gender audit of Zimbabwe’s main political parties, ZGC said the number of women in Parliament was low mainly due to the parties’ lack of confidence in them to hold political office.

“The study revealed that men in political party structures do not have confidence with women leadership, which has resulted in women tending to occupy non-key positions. Women are appointed to positions deemed as weaker and unimportant while influential positions such as party chief whip, parliamentary portfolio committees, defence and finance are taken up by men,” the report read.

ZGC indicated that most of the support women get in their political parties is determined by who they know.

“There is limited support for female candidates. The MDC and Zanu PF political parties do not have provisions in their constitutions specifically supporting female candidates for parliamentary and local government positions. Women reported that the support they received as candidates depended on their relationship and hierarchy in the political party,” the report read.

ZGC also noted that intraparty violence against women is a major stumbling block in their participation in elections.

“According to the 2017 Sadc (Southern African Development Community) Gender Protocol barometer, violence against women appears in several forms; for example harassment in the media, intimidation, sexual and physical violence against women in public life and forcing women candidates to resign,” further read the report.

The report also states that political parties were not clear on how they would
curb or eliminate violence against women during elections, despite the knowledge that sexual and physical violence against women was an obstacle to their participation.

Source Newsday