Elections: a threat to women

netsai_mushongaJOHANNESBURG A Zimbabwean civil rights leader has called on all political parties to protect women as the struggle to achieve total democracy continues in the country. (Pictured: Netsai Mushonga)

In political violence situations that have become commonplace in Zimbabwe since President Robert Mugabe assumed power in 1980, women have borne the brunt of violence and intimidation by terror gangs loyal to the octogenarian leader.

As the abuse intensifies in the uncertainty surrounding the next elections, Netsai Mushonga, the Director of Harare-based civil rights group Womens Coalition of Zimbabwe, called for more respect, representation and protection of Zimbabwean women.

Elections in Zimbabwe always present a threat to the socio-economic well-being of women, said Mushonga in Johannesburg recently.

Women are abused during intra-party conflict as party members fight for positions and they end up not getting the representation they want and deserve. Most of them become afraid to stand for positions. We say that this must stop.

As Zimbabwe prepares an election roadmap for new administration to take over from the government of national unity, Mushonga called for more recognition of women.

We need a gender-sensitive election roadmap that clearly outlines the need to protect women, who have suffered enough but continue to suffer in Zimbabwe. We also need a quota system and affirmative action for women in government, in order to see proper development in our country.

Mushonga said that because of the culture of impunity that has followed political violence cases in Zimbabwe, domestic violence has been accepted as an appendage of such violence. As a result, many women did not feel safe in society or at home.

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