Zimbabwe yesterday joined the rest of the world in celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) amid calls by various stakeholders to create a conducive environment so as to allow women to fully participate in electoral processes and exercise their democratic rights.
Source: ‘Women have power to shift political tide’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 9, 2017
By Phyllis Mbanje
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) called on all eligible women to turn out in their numbers and register as voters. In addition, the network restated its calls for zero tolerance to politically-motivated violence and for the creation of a conducive political environment that encourages women’s participation in electoral processes.
Zesn director Rindai Chipfunde Vava described the creation of a conducive environment as crucial to improving women’s participation.
“In a research conducted by Zesn on challenges in attaining gender balance in Zimbabwe, most women mentioned fear of physical and sexual violence and victimisation particularly during elections as an impediment to their participation in the electoral process,” Vava said.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC Women Assembly (MDCWA) said women should take a stand in response to the hardships and misery inflicted on citizens by registering to vote in preparation for the 2018 general elections.
“By registering to vote, women have the power to change the tide in Zimbabwean politics and are better armed to fight for women’s rights and equality,” Thamarie Chimanzi, the national spokesperson, said.
“As the MDCWA, we are advising women to go and register in their numbers and not fall into the voter apathy trap as it will work to the advantage of the failed Zanu PF government,” she said.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said gender disparity in Zimbabwe continued to undermine the recognition, empowerment and the full participation of women as equal citizens.
“As Zimbabwe, edges towards the 2018 elections, we call upon the government to ensure that women’s empowerment is prioritised and enhanced with regards to women’s participation in electoral processes,” the movement said.
The organisation said it was also concerned about the sentencing of pro-democracy activist Linda Masarira, who was on Tuesday ordered to perform 385 hours of community service at a local clinic.
Masarira was found guilty of illegally participating in the July 6, 2016 citizen-led protests.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said many women had lost lives during childbirth owing to lack of care and adequate services.
PDP accused the government of seeking medical attention for the ruling elite in foreign countries like Singapore and Malaysia using taxpayers’ money at the expense of developing local public health facilities.
“There is need for responsive, effective public health systems as well as social safety nets for everyone. The current situation where the majority of women do not have health insurance must end,” Evelyn Masaiti, the PDP Women’s Assembly chairperson, said.