As we draw closer to the end of Women’s month where various entities also celebrated International Women’s day on the 8th of March, it is high time we reflect on the gender state of affairs in Zimbabwe.
This year’s running theme was, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world.’
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic impacting on the lives of everyone, women were likely more affected due to the already existing vulnerabilities that they bear in society.
A lot of work has been put in by private players in trying to alleviate the shocks faced by women during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Of greater note the First Lady, Auxilia Mnangagwa has also been working extensively during the lockdown.
Be that as it may, this is merely addressing the problems that women face in the society at surface level.
As the famous Oliver Mtukudzi song goes, ‘chapa musoro kutema mukoma,ndiroka dambudziko mukoma’. It is critical to address the root of the problem. Gender inequality!
The problem is not only at the leadership level, but there is a lot that needs to be done to make societies change their perception of women and their roles.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to many international and regional frameworks that advocate for a 50-50 gender parity.
The constitution in section 17 reiterates that The State must promote full gender balance in Zimbabwean society particularly with regards to promoting full participation in all spheres of Zimbabwean society based on equality with men. It further notes that the state must take positive measures to rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past practices and policies.
Women and girls constitute more than half of the population in Zimbabwe. Despite that, they are still less represented in major sectors including parliament (31%), cabinet, local government (14%) and most positions of power.
But who must we hold to account over this issue?
The government must make sure that they enforce what is entailed in the constitution at all levels. Intensive campaigns must be held to further boost the confidence amongst women to take up positions of power in their respective societies.
This goes down to party politics. In the previous election, only ZANU PF and MDC Alliance had manifestos that spoke to equality while all the other political parties had no specific proactive gender policy.
ZANU PF accorded a 30% quota system to address the gender gap in its manifesto while MDC Alliance promised to guarantee 50-50 representation at all levels of government. Adopting the ZEBRA proportional representation electoral system.
Follow ups must be made and provide oversight on the implementation of such promises.
This drags down any efforts to achieve gender equality at that level. As noted, it is not only the ruling administration that should change their mindset but every other institution out there down to the family level.
It is high time everyone is held responsible.