WALPE recommends government intervention to even women participation in politics

Libinance Dokora and Phillipa Jaja

A local civic organisation group has expressed concerns over the decline in the number of women participating in the 2023 harmonized elections citing failure by the government to implement reforms that promote a conducive political environment.

The utterances are made on the back of various stakeholders who have raised concerns about the unfair alienation of women in politics as Zimbabwe heads for the August 2023 elections.

Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellency (WALPE) media and Information Technology officer Jessie Chihota said government was paying a blind eye to proposed electoral reforms supposed to engineer free and participation of women in politics.

“WALPE is deeply concerned with the political environment, preceding the August 2023 harmonized elections, Women’s rights organizations WALPE included advocated for electoral reforms that promote free and participation of women in political processes as both candidates and voters but today none of the reforms were implemented.

“Top on the reforms was the full alignment of 17:56 and 80 of the Constitution with the electoral Act in order to empower the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to reject electoral party list during the nomination process that are not gender balanced,” she said.

In 2018 the number of women candidates contesting as members of Parliament declined from 237 out of 1648 to 70 women out of 637 candidates contesting in 2023

“The percentage declined from 14 percent to 11 percent and if the Supreme Court upholds the judgment to disqualify 12 Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) aspiring MPs from Bulawayo from contesting in the elections,”

WALPE also revealed that there is a disturbing record of human rights abuses of women across the political divide in the election season which is mainly attributed as a setback for women aspiring to participate in electoral processes.

“Since January 2023 to date WALPE has recorded many cases of human rights violations against women and these includes threats of violence, online shaming, sexual harassment, assault, arbitrary arrest, body shaming and forced migration. These cases of violence against women varied from one party to another,” Chihota said.

“Political violence both covert and overt remains one of the hindrances of women’s full participation in politics and women are exposed to political violence in different forms such as election administrators, voters and partners of political leaders,” she remarked

4 women contested in the 2018 presidential elections compared to one woman who made it to the ballot.
Elisabeth Valerio, leader of the United Zimbabwe Alliance remains the sole presidential aspirant in a field of 11 men in this year’s elections.

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