Men rule – it is the sad truth

The patriarchal power system is hostile to the entry of women in politics, according to a 2011 publication by the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe.

The report titled “Beyond the Enclave: Towards a pro-poor and Inclusive Development Strategy for Zimbabwe”, edited by Godfrey Kanyenze, Timothy Kondo, Prosper Chitambara and Jos Martens notes that at Independence in 1980, only eight women made it into the 100-seat Parliament.

“To ensure increased participation of women in politics, government enacted the Electoral Act of 1990, which allowed women to participate in general and by-elections for the presidency, parliamentary and local elections as voters and candidates without any discrimination,” reads the report.

That Act, which set the pace for more legislation aimed at ensuring increased participation of women in decision-making posts, saw the government sign a number of international protocols, including the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women in a move to target increasing equality in decision-making positions.

According to a post-2008 election survey conducted by the Research and Advocacy Unit to establish women’s views on politics, elections, violence and peace, women believe that they should participate in politics and elections as much as men.

“Findings revealed that an increasing number of women are voting although the number is less than the number of those eligible to vote,” says the report. “Women voters are deterred from voting in large numbers by administrative issues such as failure to register, long queues, not having identity documents as well as by violence and intimidation.”

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission admitted that the July 31 elections were marred by irregularities after it emerged that women failed to vote because their names had been changed to either maiden names or surnames of their husbands without their knowledge.

Endorsed as ‘peaceful’ by regional bodies such as the Southern Africa Development Community, the recent elections resulted in an increase of the number of women parliamentarians.

People have attributed this to the continued lobbying by women’s organisations for the provision in the new constitution calling for 60 reserved seats for women.

Others have noted that considering that women constitute 52 percent of the country’s population, women voters had the potential to support women politicians and increase female representation in decision-making posts.

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