Vehicle to Achieve Gender Parity Exists, The Political Will Needs Encouragement
The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) stands with the women of Zimbabwe and the rest of the world to commemorate International Women’s Day. This is a day to celebrate the achievements of women socially, economically, politically and culturally, whether in a personal or professional capacity, whether officially recognised or not.
This is also a day to remember women who stood up against patriarchy, women who believed in themselves; women who were ridiculed and abused but who were brave and bold to stand up against a system that said you are not good enough. Patriarchy and the construct of power has shifted but not altered the position of women in Zimbabwe. Women want to participate in development and governance processes but the fear of violence and the different manifestations of patriarchy stops them from stepping out.
Superficially it appears as if women’s position has changed but in reality nothing has changed. Our Constitution has progressive provisions on gender equality and emphasises that discrimination based on sex will not be tolerated, however patriarchy is still the main reason why many women are not able to reach their full potential in any sector.
Our Constitution in section 80 (1) states every woman has equal dignity of the person with men and this includes equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities. Unfortunately this section and other sections in the Constitution are not being adhered to. There is no political will to engage women at the highest level, particularly in government and other political spaces. Although strides have been made to improve the situation of women, they are still a long way from achieving gender parity in government and other decision making processes. The number of women in government remains extremely low; the argument is always there aren’t enough qualified women to fill these positions and yet every year for the past 20 years the universities have produced graduates, nearly half of them women, many of whom have gone on to acquire Masters and doctorate degrees in their chosen fields.
This year’s campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange, and RAU is challenging the government of Zimbabwe through President Mugabe to be bold and change and take a chance on women, give them an opportunity to take up senior leadership positions and lessen the gender gap. The vehicle to achieve this exists with the appointment of the Gender Commission, which needs to be resourced and given the space to achieve its mandate.
Through strategic collaborations gender parity can be realised.