It is evident that gender-friendly policies are most likely to emerge from governments in which women have a strong say in developing policies. For many generations in the modern era, women were deprived of the right to vote, and the tendency to reverse this only began in the late nineteenth century, but it was very slow: between 1893 and 1944, less than 1% of countries in the world had female suffrage. The change post Second World War was startling, and, by 1966, 83% of the world’s countries had female suffrage. However, quantity is not necessarily quality, and, while 83% allowed women the vote, only 51% had women parliamentarians. By 1990, all countries had women parliamentarians, by only 38% had achieved a level of 10% of women in parliament: women had a foot in the door, but hardly were getting into the main room.It is obvious that there are many factors that inhibit women’s representation; structural, economic, social and cultural. Most of these factors can be addressed by women-friendly policies, but this obviously takes time, and is wholly dependent on how important such policies are to men and countries. Thus, the issue of electoral systems takes on great importance, and creates the possibility of short-cutting the “trickle-down” approach to gender equality.This is the focus of this first volume of the Gender Lens. As part of the SIDA’s programme for Strengthening Women’s Advocacy for Inclusive Governance (SWAG), this volume addresses the problem of representation for women in the governance of Zimbabwe. It follows on the efforts made by the women’s movement to increase female representation in the 2018 Harmonised Election. As will be remembered, this election saw women voting in very large numbers, but with few women directly elected, and a paltry vote for female candidates. Zimbabwe does have more than 30% of its parliamentarians as women, but this is the consequence of the quota system introduced in 2013.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a scourge across the whole planet, and in many countries appears to have been increasing during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the problem was enormous and serious well before the pandemic. According to UN Women, in the year prior to the pandemic, 243 million woman and girls (15 to 49) had experienced intimate partner violence.
Organised Violence and Torture (OVT) have very serious consequences for the victims and time does not heal. New report from RAU and CSU
If the Zimbabwe courts do not hold to absolute adherence to constitutionality, then this can create concerns for investors that their investments might not be protected under the law. The judgments in the case of the unlawful appointment of 10 more Ministers than the Constitution allowed, and the dismissal of the Speaker illustrate an unhealthy tendency for the courts to act politically, and not constitutionally.
Every year, on 10 October, the world commemorates World Mental Health Day to remind us that mental health is such an important issue. This year, more so due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this has particular importance with the additional stress that living with the pandemic has caused.
There is a question knocking around about how best to characterise the nature of the Zimbabwean state, a question that gets more urgent every week. The government’s view is that it is a state in trouble, but trouble induced by external pressures, and generally, in response to criticism about how poorly the country is doing, respond by blaming sanctions and the hostility to the land reform process. Zimbabwe, without doubt, incurs more than its fair share of international attention, just as Rhodesia did before Independence, but, as before Independence, not without reason. However, and just like the pre-Independence government that was fighting “communism” (and hence blameless), the forty-year-old Zimbabwe government does not accept in any way that it must take the blame for the parlous state of the nation: rather it blames all the problems on external forces, opposition political parties, and, since November 2017, on the legacy of Robert Mugabe.