International Women’s Day – Zimbabwean women call for more women in decision-making.

By Chris Musekiwa – UCAZ Communications Officer

Zimbabwean women call for more women in decision making positions. This comes in the wake the dwindling number of female legislators and councillors.

On 8 March 2021 Zimbabwe joins the global community in celebrating the International Women’s Day. It is a time when, as a country we need to take stock of how we have fared in promoting the participation of women (constituting 52% of the population) in decision making positions particularly at both national and local government levels.

The stark reality is that Zimbabwe has been sliding in the wrong direction. The past three harmonised elections (encompassing presidential, parliamentary, and local government) saw the number of female councillors declining by two percentage points, each election. Currently female councillors constitute a paltry 14%. A worrisome trend indeed.

UCAZ has worked with organisations working for gender equality on this issue since 1999.

To address the issue, UCAZ and its sister association, the Association of Rural District Councils (ARDCZ) working together under the banner of the Zimbabwe Local Government Association (ZILGA) went on a lobbying and advocacy overdrive and targeted the State President His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The President agreed to have a conference with all 274 female councillors and listen to their concerns. This was unprecedented in the history of local government, for a head of state to have a meeting with female councillors. The councillors made a presentation with the following six recommendations to the President:

  1. That Clause 11 of the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment Bill no. 2 be amended to extend the Temporary Special Measures to local government elections, to give effect to Section 17 of the Constitution that provides for gender parity in all areas of decision making. Specifically, Your Excellency, we recommend that women be given 30% proportional representation seats on top of the existing council seats. The modalities of this will vary according to each local authority.
  2. That Section 277 of the Constitution, which provides for Elections to Local Authorities be amended to provide that all political parties shall field equal numbers of male and female candidates.
  3. That the Electoral law should provide for at least 50% of women candidates at the local government level.
  4. That the Electoral Law compels political parties to have quotas for women.
  5. Amend the Electoral Act and the Local Government Act to be consistent with these provisions.
  6. That any other related legislation is enacted to give effect to Sections 15, 17 and 80 of the Constitution.

 

The President accepted all the recommendations.

“The need to widen democratic space and increase the participation of women in decision making processes cannot be over emphasized” said the President.

The President said that women had the greatest potential to close all loopholes to the deleterious corruption threat by being the guarantors of responsive, transparent and accountable public sector systems.

The President said that the women leaders had an obligation to improve the quality of life of the people in communities.

The following week government, through Cabinet, approved a quarter system for female councillors at the local government level. A great achievement for the local government sector.

Chairperson of UCAZ’s Women in Local Government Forum Clr Angeline Kasipo who is also the Mayor of the City of Kwekwe.

“I have always believed that local government is best suited for women because the services provided are mostly to do with women. We are talking about the provision of portable water, sanitation and sewage services and public lighting. The lack of these services affects women the most. Women understand better what it means when provision of these services is poor. By agreeing to our request, the President service,” said Mayor Kasipo.

The few female councillors that we have need to be saluted because of their tenacity and strong voices which resulted in government taking action to increase the number of women in leadership at the local level.