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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
newsletter – September 2013
Women in Politics
Support Unit (WIPSU)
September 19, 2013
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system increases number of women in Parliament
With the marriage
of reserved seats and a proportional representation, zebra listed
system in Senate, 122 women were sworn into Parliament
on the 3rd of September 2013. Of these 60 women were members of
parliament whose mandate in the next 5 years will be to represent
the interests of women of Zimbabwe in the legislature and in the
Provincial councils. This is a big increase on the 57 women that
were sworn in to Parliament in 2008.
African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development
is an instrument that has not only been signed but ratified by the
Government of Zimbabwe. The provision of 60 reserved seats in the
was in line with implementation and domesification of the Protocol
which calls for 50/50 representation of women in public office by
2015. The protocol provides for the use of affirmative action in
order to achieve gender parity in different areas by 2015. Precedent
for this has been set in Uganda where “women’s access
to politics is primarily through a system of special reserved seats.”
As a result since 2001 at least ¼ of the Ugandan Parliament
has been women.
seats and other constitutional provisions have come a bit late for
Zimbabwe to meet the 2015 deadline, representation of women has
increased from 18% to 34%. The number of women in Parliament has
increased by 114% due to the provisions that were lobbied for by
women in the Constitutional
Political parties continue
to be the main stumbling block in increasing women’s representation.
They failed to ensure that as prescribed by the new Constitution
of Zimbabwe sufficient women candidates were forwarded in the constituency
seats to ensure that the National Assembly reached gender parity.
In fact the numbers of directly elected women representing constituencies
decreased from 34 in 2008 to 25 in 2013. As much as women had seats
reserved seats, this was supposed to increase the space for women
in Parliament and not limit their access to the 60 seats alone.
continue to remain spaces in which the men primarily influence and
make decisions. As such there is a need for women in all the political
parties to set out clear criteria for candidature for the reserved
seats for 2018. This to ensure hat the seats are not hijacked to
fulfill other agendas. A lot of work will need to be done to ensure
that these women’s mandate is understood clearly. It needs
to be understood primarily by the citizens of Zimbabwe, within political
parties and within Parliament. These 60 women have constituencies;
their constituents at Provincial level are the women of that province.
economic status in Zimbabwe provides a huge barrier towards their
access to public office. The creation of reserved seats of women
increased women’s to access Parliament while limiting the
economic burden that campaigning in the first past the post constituency
system brings with it. Paired with this, the seats will provide
a grooming ground for women in which they can prove their ability
as women leaders to the electorate. In this way creating by 2023
a pool of 120 women who are willing and able to contest in the first
past system and have a clear documented history of ability and will
to work and deliver. They become the best tool in popularizing the
participation of women in public office.
The 60 seats
as was also intended have ensured that political parties were able
to put for-ward, as well as retain, women who have a documented
history of pushing women’s rights issues in various ways.
These women will be able to articulate and push for the needs of
women in the spaces that Parliament of Zimbabwe influences. Oppah
Muchinguri, Priscilla Mishiharabwi-Mushonga, and Thokozani Khupe
are example of such women who have clear documented histories of
pushing for women’s access to their rights in different areas
over the years and are members of parliament under the reserved
seats. It is women like these who will effectively be able to use
the increased space for women in Parliament to lobby for state delivery
of services to women across the country.
The 60 female
MPs who represent the women across the provinces of this country,
with appropriate support, have the opportunity to influence the
political landscape of this country. Ensuring that politics delivers
a development agenda that has women at its center to communities
across the country; whilst forever proving that women political
actors can and will ensure that real development will take place
at community level.
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