BY OBERT SIAMILANDU
THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) has urged political parties to ensure gender equality in their selection of electoral candidates to promote the 50/50 representation in Parliament and local authorities as provided for in the Constitution.
ZGC chairperson Margaret Sangarwe made the call during a gender equality workshop for leaders of the Political Actors Dialogue in Kariba at the weekend.
Sangarwe said harmful cultural and religious practices continued to infringe on women’s rights and placed systematic barriers to gender equality in social, political and business circles.
She said women in politics were subjected to sexual harassment.
“As ZGC, we are in engagement with political parties on mainstreaming gender equality in their political structures, processes, constitutions and practices. Political parties also play a pivotal role in the gender outcome of elections, and they must ensure that their processes are gender sensitive,” Sangarwe said.
“To this effect, the commission developed a gender model policy for political parties to provide a guiding framework for them to mainstream gender within their practices.”
Sangarwe said there was need for political parties to implement the 50/50 representation roadmap as the country approaches the 2023 elections.
“This involves strengthening its advocacy and lobbying initiatives to engender the legislative and electoral processes.”
She said there was need for a shift from the current electoral system — first past the post — to the one used in senatorial elections to ensure the 50/50 proportional representation for males and females was achieved.
The ZGC chairperson said they were in the process of developing a strategy on the elimination of sexual harassment and gender-based violence (GBV) in the workplace, which will be launched soon.
“It is our hope that the strategy will also guide political parties in addressing the prevalence of GBV in political spaces,” she said.
“The political space, which is a workplace to so many people has not been spared either by cases of GBV as the commission has received a number of complains relating to GBV and sexual harassment against female politicians.”