Fairness Moyana in Hwange
Lack of resources and political will is stifling the implementation of gender parity protocols thereby working against the inclusion of women in political leadership, a gender activist has said.
Studies done in most African countries have revealed that there is low participation of women in political leadership.
Besides guarantees in the constitution, Zimbabwe has ratified and domesticated the Maputo Protocol on Gender and Sadc Gender Protocol on Women’s Political Participation.
Speaking during a district dialogue meeting with community, political and traditional leaders recently, Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum on Gender programmes development and fundraising manager, Ms Thando Makubaza said the political space for women participation was still stifled due to lack of implementation of protocols.
“The meeting was to unpack the reasons why women are not found in political spaces and the lack of political will despite the three documents. Examples we are looking at are the makeup of the Presidium, Cabinet, parliamentarians, councilors; how many women are there. Just to find out why it is that way and have communities participating in understanding and unpacking what is happening.
“Yes, we achieved the liberation struggle from the colonial era but the gender war is ongoing and we know if there is political will to implement the constitutional requirements, the Sadc and Maputo Protocol that we signed, ratified and domesticated then will be on the right path. So, this war is not on even at our level but Sadc and AU levels for them to put laws to say this has to be done and also put a clause with regards to failure to implement. As long as we have the free will sort of attitude or leave it up to a certain individual’s discretion to decide we will continue to lag behind,” said Ms Makubaza.
She said the lack of resources was impacting negatively to the fight to end Gender Based Violence (GBV) as cases could not be handled effectively by law enforcement agents and courts.
“We have beautiful documents signed, ratified and domesticated but no implementation, no strategies, no financing for these to become real. For instance we have Domestic Violence Act of our own, how long has it been in play but there is no resourcing and financing for it to happen.
“You will find that if you go to the police to report a domestic violence case they don’t have transport to take the person and send him to court. They say go and bring the person. How can you bring the person who perpetrated against you? That goes on to show that we don’t have resources and financing for all these documents that we have.
In our budgeting as well, there is no gender budgeting, there is no specific budget that brings in the gender lenses for budgeting. So we will continue to hear the same excuse there are no resources and that’s the song we hear that we can’t do it because there are no resources.”
Ms Makubaza said the dialogue meetings were meant to raise awareness and engage men as change agents in ensuring full participation of women through creation on an enabling environment.
“The purpose of the meeting was to begin a conversation with community leadership with emphasis on political party leadership at community level and any other influential leaders that are found in communities.
“The idea was to have a discussion looking at the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Maputo Protocol on Gender, Sadc Gender Protocol on Women’s Political Participation to bring those three documents together and also see the mileage or lack of that political parties have done in order to promote women’s political participation.
“We also wanted to look at the reasons why there is so much political unwillingness for men in general to have women participating meaningfully in politics. We looked at issues such as the effects and influence of culture and tradition, faith and religious institutions and the role that they play in families, marriages, in ensuring and being a barrier to women’s political.”
The three-year project running under the banner “Increasing women’s political participation” is targeting men who play a vital role in creating an enabling environment for women participation in political leadership.
It is also being implemented in universities with a bias towards Student Representative Councils (SRCs). It is being implemented in Hwange, Bulawayo, Chipinge and Epworth in Harare with support from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).