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Media representation of women in politics – October 01- November 30 2012
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
March 28, 2013

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Women constitute somewhat more than half the world’s population. It is a trend reflected in Zimbabwe too.

According to preliminary census results released by the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (Zimstat), females constitute 6, 738 877 of the country’s 12, 9 million population, about half a million (503 945) more than males, whose population stands at 6, 234 931.

Yet despite this, women’s participation in formal political structures and programmes – where decisions regarding their lives and the use of societal resources are made – remain at the periphery.

Statistics show that women hold only 14 percent of parliamentary seats in the country, down from 16 percent in the previous parliament. Representation of women in Zimbabwe’s main political parties also mirrors this pattern, as the leadership and decision-making bodies of the two major political parties in the country – ZANU PF and the MDC-T – are male dominated.

According to the MDC-T website (18/12/12), the party’s National Standing Committee comprises nine members of which only Thokozani Khupe, who is also the Deputy President of the party, is the sole female representative. The MDC-T’s National Executive is made up of 40 members consisting 26 males and 14 females.

Similarly, the ZANU PF website (18/12/12) shows the party’s presidium is made up of three men and one woman, Joice Mujuru, who is also one of the party’s two vice presidents; while the party’s decision making body in between congress, the Politburo, comprises 26 males and seven women.

It is no wonder then that there has been lots of lobbying in support of women’s participation in politics. A local feminist Non-Governmental Organisation, Women in Politics Support Unit (WIPSU), justifies this stance thus: “Participatory democracy cannot be achieved if more than half of the population remains voiceless with no full access to decision-making and to the activities that influence the course of their future.”

Likewise, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organisation established in 1889 as the first permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations contends “genuine democracy cannot exist without the full participation of both men and women in politics”.

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