Simuka! A Boost for Zimbabwean Women's Participation in Politics

  • Posted on: 15 August 2014
  • By: admin

The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), in partnership with The Women’s Trust (TWT) will today launch the report: Does encouraging women to register and vote make a difference? A preliminary report on women’s experiences in the 2013 Elections. This event will take place at Crowne Plaza Hotel at 8am.

In the run-up to the July 2013 poll, TWT undertook a campaign dubbed: SiMuka! Zimbabwe, Woman, Get Counted! Register to Vote!; a buildup from a previous campaign run in 2007 and 2008, Women Can Do It! - intended to mobilise and encourage women to participate in the elections by registering as voters, voting and voting for women candidates. This report details women’s experiences with the 2013 elections. It assesses the effectiveness of woman-to-woman approaches in mobilising for increased and effective participation in important national governance processes, such as elections. Historically, there has been limited public acceptance of women as leaders, while women have also had limited confidence in their own abilities to lead and participate fully in electoral processes at all levels.

Key Findings:

· The SiMuka! Campaign significantly influenced at least 86% of the women interviewed in the study, to register as voters, as well as to actually vote.

· Information about the campaign spread largely through the workshops that TWT had with women but also through word of mouth.

· Woman-to-woman approaches to mobilisation for participation in governance processes are more effective, and should be strongly supported.

· The considerably peaceful atmosphere prevailing during the election period may have significantly contributed to the high level of participation by women, although there seemed to be a higher frequency of voters being turned away in comparison to the 2008 poll.

· Creative a conducive environment i.e. peaceful, with fewer bureaucratic procedures for voter registration – is necessary to ensure full and meaningful participation of women in elections and politics in general.

Recommendations:

· More needs to be done to eradicate violence and intimidation during elections to ensure that women can adequately participate;

· Registration processes before elections must be visible and active before elections to minimise the number of people registering just before the elections;

· The registration process must be flexible, without unnecessary bureaucracy, to allow more women to be able to participate;

· All parties involved in elections must ensure that important information is disseminated to all voters through aggressive voter education. Voter education for women is probably best done by women’s organisations;

· Older women in politics still need to do more to mentor the younger women to make sure that there is no gap of women in political offices;

· Campaigns like SiMuka Zimbabwe need to start early and run for a projected period of time; and

· More campaigns like SiMuka! Zimbabwe should be done to ensure that women are educated and empowered in spaces they feel safe and are able to find support to fully participate in political processes.

*For more Information, contact:

Natasha Msonza, Communication & Campaigns Officer, RAU.

Tel: 04-741 511, nmsonza@rau.co.zw or

Tendai Garwe, Communications, Media, Information & Advocacy Officer, TWT.

Tel: 04 -797 978, communications@thewomenstrust.org.zw

The hashtag that may be used for tweeting at the launch is #simukazimbabwe