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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
make up more than one-third of Zimbabwe’s new parliament
September 05, 2013
pride and excitement, Fanny Chirisa was among the 124
women sworn-in on 3 September as new Members of Parliament (MPs)
in the 8th Parliament of the Republic of Zimbabwe. A long-time women’s
activist, she said she hopes to use her knowledge and experience
to familiarize other MPs with the gender equality and women’s
rights priorities that will make a difference to women’s lives.
what these issues are and I know where to go to get information
and support from the women’s movement,” said Chirisa,
a first-time MP for Manicaland Province in the eastern part of the
Women MPs in
the 8th Parliament of Zimbabwe and members of civil society gathered
on 4 September 2013 to honour female candidates who participated
in the 2013 elections.
more than doubled from 17 per cent following the 2008
general elections, to 35 per cent in the elections on 31 July
2013. Zimbabwe now joins the ranks of the more than 30 countries
worldwide that have used a special electoral quota system to increase
women’s representation in Parliament to at least 30 per cent,
which is considered the minimum for collective action.
The quota is
included in Zimbabwe’s new Constitution,
which was approved by referendum
in March and signed into law on 22 May 2013. It was widely celebrated
after a decade-long struggle, which UN Women and UNDP supported
through a constitutional lobby group. Thespecial measure reserves
60 seats for women to be elected through a system of Proportional
Representation, based on the votes cast for political party candidates
in the lower house (National Assembly). For the 60 elected Senate
seats, women and men candidates are listed alternately, with every
list headed by a woman candidate.
As a result,
women now comprise 124 of the 350 MPs in Zimbabwe’s new Parliament,
including 86 women in the National Assembly – 60 in the reserved
seats and 26 elected directly to the 210 constituency seats.
to bring about a change in the livelihoods of the people in my constituency
and my focus will be on the three areas of social, community and
economic development,” said MP Iris Chiratidzo Mabuwa, who
won a constituency seat. Having worked with the International Labour
Organization for nearly two decades, she added: “Bringing
the global Millennium Development Goals agenda to the constituency-level
to empower women, youth and other vulnerable groups… is one
of my goals.”
The use of the
special measure also led to 37 women candidates being elected to
the Senate, and one woman was selected to one of the two Senate
seats allocated for people living with disabilities, bringing the
total number of women to 38 – an unprecedented 47.5 per cent
of the 80 Senators.
activists say the struggle for meaningful political participation
is far from secure.
a dog-eat-dog election and … women were pushed towards the
60 seats and told to vacate the competitive seats for men. It was
not unusual for women to be told ‘we gave you 60 seats, what
more do you want?’” explained Netsai Mushonga, national
coordinator of the Women’s
Coalition of Zimbabwe.
measure will be in effect for the first two Parliaments elected
after the Constitution came into effect (2013 and 2018). As a result,
women activists know that they must work with the new women Parliamentarians
to secure the gains made and prepare for 2018. “These women
[in the 60 reserved seats] must now convert these seats into a serious
political presence and interventions. Since they do not have constituencies,
they must develop initiatives to get a profile over the next five
years among women and men, and they must work to become highly competent
politicians,” said Julie Stewart, Director of the Southern
and Eastern Africa Regional Centre for Women’s Law at the
University of Zimbabwe, who is also a member of the UN-Women-supported
Group of 20 (G-20) lobbying group, which successfully advocated
for the inclusion of the strong gender equality and women’s
rights provisions in the new Constitution.
The G-20 and
the women’s movement, Stewart said, must strengthen the capacity
of the new women MPs to mainstream women’s issues into all
the broader issues that will be discussed in the new Parliament
and ensure that gender equality and women’s rights in the
new Constitution are secured through law reform.
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