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  • Breakfast meeting for the Women's Parliamentary Caucus
    Women's Coalition
    March 27, 2009

    Let women's voices be heard in the Constitution Making Process - Female MP


    The Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe in conjunction with Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association invited the Women's Parliamentary Caucus on Thursday, 26 March 2009, to the Holiday Inn for a Breakfast Meeting to discuss and share strategies on how to engender the leadership and processes of writing the national constitution of Zimbabwe. The process of writing the constitution will be driven by a Parliamentary Committee and there was need for female policy makers to influence the process for their optimal and critical participation. The meeting brought together 50 members of the Women's Parliamentary Caucus and 25 civic society leaders to interface and strategize.

    Honourable Nomalanga Khumalo, Deputy Speaker of Parliament welcomed the Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Members of Parliaments and Senators. She stressed the importance of sensetising the MPs with relevant information for them to engage fully in processes happening from parliament. This was followed by a presentation by Emilia Muchawa, Chairperson of WCoZ and Director of Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association. Emilia argued that women should engender the constitution making process because the the constitution is the primary /ultimate law in the country and should reflect women's lived reality and protect women and girls' rights. Women constitute the majority of the Zimbabwean population and a people driven constitution means that women should participate in the majority.

    She reiterated that fact that the Interparty Political Agreement signed on 15th September 2008 in article VI recognises the right and duty of Zimbabweans to make a constitution for themselves- people driven, inclusive and democratic. The constitution should deepen democratic values and principles, particularly the enhancement of full citizenship and equality of women. Parties resolved to set up a Parliamentary Select Committee to drive the process. The Parliamentary select committee will be set up by the standing orders and rules committee. The Select committee will set up subcommittees chaired by a member of parliament and made up of MPs and civil society representatives. Short term economic Recovery Plan (STERP) recognises the urgency of the constitutional review process.

    The duties of the Parliamentary Select Committee is to set up sub committees, hold public hearings, convene an all stakeholders conference for consultation, table draft constitution to a stakeholders conference, report to parliament on its recommendations and organise a referendum. This process will run from the 13th April 2009 until on or about 12th October 2010

    The main call from the policy makers during the plenary discuss was that they needed intensive awareness raising around the constitution, constitution making process and directions in executing their roles. Female parliamentarians lacked basic knowledge on the constitution and processes but NGOs assumed they have it. This hampers their effective engagement and participation. MPs needed this information so they can strategise, lobby and advocate within their political parties

    Experience in 1999 and 2000 revealed that the constitution process once started becomes very masculine. Women needed to jump into the fray and take leadership. WCoZ and membership need to educate and inform around the constitution. Women lawyers should take the lead in the different parliamentary Committees and Sub-Committees. Women in civic society should get active with research and publicize on the discourse of women and the constitution. Women should demand a gender commission in the constitution making process and be very bold as they participate in this process. Policy makers and women's NGOs should mobilize women across the country to participate.

    The Standing Orders Committee has already been selected. It will select Parliamentary Committees on the 30th of March 2009. The Standing Orders Committees will set up the Constitutional Parliamentary Committees by the 14th of April 2009. MPs were encouraged to express their preferences to their chief whips. There was need to collect CVs from MPs interested

    UNDP requested WCoZ to come up with a structured process of a way forward in the constitution making process and submit a global proposal to funders.

    In her closing Remarks by Honourable Flora Bhuka expressed gratitude to WCoZ for the timeous workshop on engendering the constitution making process. She asked WCoZ and its membership to make this a continuous process of engagement with policy makers and raise issues of concern. She requested that women across political divides continue to caucus and strategise on issues of national concern.

    She encouraged policy makers to influence selections into Parliamentary Committees so that they have adequate representation of women. She made a plea to women to focus on supporting one another.

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