POLITICAL violence which has rocked most of Zimbabwe’s elections since independence in 1980, leaving many dead, maimed, raped or homeless, is a major hindrance to the participation of women in polls, a study by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) has shown.
Source: ‘Violence pushes women out of elections’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 15, 2017
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
In the 2016 paper presented by Reyhana Masters on behalf of RAU during an Alpha Media Holdings (AMH)/Hivos Conversations on women participation in elections, violence emerged as the major reason for middle class women to shun participation in elections.
“Violence is a major push away for middle class women; the political environment is not currently conducive for people entering space. Women are also objectified and seen as sex objects, their contributions are not viewed in any manner other than that and this has forced many of them to stay away,” she said.
RAU said corruption and theft had not helped matters as women prefer to stay away from such social ills.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya backed recent remarks by National People First leader Joice Mujuru, who accused women of being used by men in conspiracy games to bring down the few females who have made it in politics.
“Women are being used by men in the Zanu PF succession issue to malign each other. If you look closely, you will see that behind these women there are powerful men with access to resources and power who are using these women to turn against each other,” he said.
Ruhanya said the only way to deal with this was to ensure that girls and boys had access to the same education at a tender age so that they could equally have control and access to resources and power.
Ellen Kandororo Dingani of the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) said the most important factor was creating an electoral system that was conducive.
She said a 2014 report by Zesn indicated that the media was harsh on women candidates with journalists allegedly demanding sexual favours and bribes in return for coverage.
“The media either ignored or portrayed women in a negative manner. Some reporters demand sexual and monetary bribes for coverage of women who run for political office,” Zesn said in the report.
AMH managing director Vincent Kahiya said as the elections drew closer, it was important for conversations around elections to continue so that when time to cast the ballot came in 2018, “readers and the nation will be cleverer”.