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"Women can do it!" Conference declaration: Setting our agenda for political decision-making
Women's Trust
September 07, 2007

Observing that:

  • Women constitute 52% of the population but occupy an average of only 24.5 % of seats in parliament and senate, with an average of only 10% in all decision making positions;
  • There are inconsistencies between national policies for women's empowerment and prevailing attitudes and actions towards women's participation;
  • Women and children remain the most marginalized and impoverished segments of society;
  • Of the total applicants for land, women benefited less than men from the land reform programme; and
  • HIV/AIDS have become a feminized epidemic with women having the highest HIV prevalence rate and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 years of age having the fastest growing prevalence.

We, the undersigned . . .

Organizations representing women, broader civil society, including labour, business and faith-based organizations, the ZANU PF Women's League, the two MDC Women's Assemblies, the Women's Parliamentary Caucus and other women politicians, alumni of The Women's Trust, academic institutions, students, and international cooperating
partners gathered in Harare on the 20th and 21st of August 2007 for the "Women Can Do It!" Setting Our Agenda for Political Participation and Decision-Making Conference,

Reaffirming our commitment to:

  • The right to participate as full and equal citizens and to input into the national development agenda;
  • Assert our right to rally behind our issues as women, regardless of our political party and other affiliations;
  • Support and affirm each other as women and citizens; and
  • Facilitate the participation of women with disabilities in eligibility to political office and physical accessibility of voting infrastructure,

Assert that sustainable social, economic and political development will not take places as long as women's right to
participation in the political processes continues to be limited by:

  • Failure to incorporate and comply with international and regional instruments that uphold women's right to participation in to domestic law;
  • An electoral system that discriminates against women who have neither the representation in parties nor the financial resources to compete on an equal footing with men and where women are sacrificed when there are conflicts in primary elections;
  • Failure by political parties to meet their commitment to ensure a quota of women candidates in elections; and
  • Relegation of women in decision-making to soft portfolios

And make the following declaration:

1. We demand an electoral system based on proportional representation that gives women greater chances to lead;
2. We demand that Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 18 be made gender sensitive through proportional representation and a women's quota that takes into account various regional and international instruments on promoting women's participation in political decision-making;
3. We demand consistent representation by women in the mediation talks on Zimbabwe's future and we call upon all political parties involved to ensure representation of women in the SADC Initiative on Zimbabwe mediation talks;
4. We call upon the chosen representatives to the talks to table the women's issues based on this communiqué;
5. We recommend that political party funding from government comes with conditions that 50 % should be set aside for female political aspirants;
6. We demand that 50% of political parties' candidates be women;
7. We demand that women's views, political voices and presence be given equal access in the media;
8. We call for a thorough and determined effort by government and civil society to inform women of their right to participate as voters and as candidates in electoral processes;
9. As women we demand the space to mobilize, campaign for and vote for other women to ensure our adequate representation;
10. We condemn violence in campaigning and demand to have security as women and citizens;
11. We call upon all the state organs of law and order to provide us with the full protection of the law ;
12. We refuse the use of our sons and daughters as instruments of violence by politicians without integrity; and
13. We call on Government to provide adequate resources through clear budgetary provision for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, in line with Zimbabwe's commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and the National Gender Policy Implementation Strategy and Work Plan.

Adopted at Rainbow Towers, Harare, on this 21st day of August 2007 by the organizations listed below.

Action Aid
Africa University; IPLG
Amai Mujuru housing cooperation - Zvishavane
Association of Kubatana Community Trust - Mutoko
Business Connect
CCJP2 Bishops Conference
Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa
Chinhoyi University of Technology
Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe
Danhiko Project
Disabled Women's Support Organisation
Financial Gazette - Harare
Guardrole Security - Pamona
Harare Institute of Technology
Kajiwa Development Cooperative Association
Kunzwana Women's Association
Manicaland Development Association - Mutare
Marymount Teacher's College
MDC - Gweru, Bulawayo, Chiredzi, Masvingo
Midlands AIDS Caring Organization
Midlands State University
Miracle IT
MP of MDC - Kadoma
MP of ZANU-PF Mudzi
MS Zimbabwe
Musasa Project
Mutare Polytechnic College
Mutare Teacher's College
New Ziana
Norwegian People's AID
Rural District Council - Runde, Mudzi,Chegutu
Save the Needy
Shape Zimbabwe
Solusi University
Southern Times
Speedlink Cargo
Stanbic Bank
Sunday Times
The Centre
The Herald
UMC - Mudzi
University of Zimbabwe
Visitation Makumbi High School
Wadzanai CDA
Women In Health Association - Mutare
Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe
Women's University in Africa
World Vision Zimbabwe - Harare, Mudzi
YODAT - Macheke
Young Business Executive Association
Young Men Christian Association
Young Voices Network
Young Women Christian Association
Young Women Leader's Forum
ZANU (PF) - Harare
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
Zimbabwe Council of Churches
Zimbabwe Journalists
Zimbabwe Local Government Association
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
Zimbabwe Nurses Association - Mudzi, Harare, Bulawayo
Zimbabwe Women in Health Association
Zimbabwe Women Writers
Zvishavane Women AIDS Prevention Association

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