Gender Commission trains Masvingo women for 2023 elections

MIRROR REPORTER

MASVINGO – The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) is holding a five-day workshop at a local hotel in Masvingo to train and prepare aspiring women candidates from Bikita, Chiredzi and Masvingo Urban for the 2023 national elections.

The participants are drawn from all political parties.

The workshop is being held at the backdrop of worrying gender equity statistics in Zimbabwe where only 13,3% of the councillors in the country are women and in Parliament its 31,5% and senate 48% women.

Two commissioners, Peter Mawonera (Chief Chikwizo) and Commissioner Dr Nepudzai Mercy Nyangulu, and ZGC Chief Executive Officer, Virginia Muwanigwa are attending the workshop while several consultants are making presentations on a wide range of subjects.

The workshop running under the banner; Women Rise in Politics started on Monday and will be ending on Friday.

The Mirror conducted interviews with the two commissioners and they said the programme will train 20 women in each of the country’s 63 districts and the names of the participants come from the political parties.

In Masvingo Province the Commission has so far trained 20 women from Gutu District.

The Commission is holding two workshops at a time and the programme is sponsored by the Government of Zimbabwe and United Nations Women. 

A Gender audit conducted in 2019 with the support of HIVOs showed that women were not joining politics because of lack of confidence, inadequate political networks, low access to information, lack of faith in political processes, lack of resources for campaigning, negative portrayal in the media and violence including hate speech, cyber bullying and physical and sexual violence.

The Commissioners said that the lack of gender equality and equity in the Zimbabwe politic body is disturbing particularly considering that the Zimbabwean Constitution calls for gender equity.

“Our Constitution clearly provides a supportive legal framework for women’s equal participation in the political decision making through section 17 which speaks to gender balance, section 56 on gender equality and non-discrimination, Section 67 on political rights including the right to stand for election for public office and if elected to hold public office,” said Commissioner Mawonera.

Commissioner Nyangulu said Zimbabwe is a signatory to various international frameworks on gender equality and equity.

“The disturbing statistics is despite Zimbabwe being signatory to various international frameworks on gender equality and equity which include the Convention on Elimination on all forms of Discrimination Against Women, Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action among others,” said Commissioner Nyangulu.

The trainees who spoke to The Mirror hailed the workshop for boosting their confidence as they now realise their rights as women in politics. They said they were mentored and told to ensure that they get the support and blessings of their families and husbands first before they seek political office.

They were mentored on how to present themselves, how to dress and to make good public speeches. They were also told to shun violence and said they were trained on fundraising.

Everjoy Chinditi an aspiring youth from Masvingo Urban lashed out at political violence. She argued that political violence is one of the key factors that intimidate and keeps women out of politics.

She accused political leaders of being the architects of violence.

“I believe political violence starts with the leaders. If leaders show that they can work together, their supporters will follow suit,” said Chinditi.

Angeline Matauya who aspires to be an MP in Chiredzi said homes and families are there because of the mother and father and the country’s governance system must in turn rest on both men and women.

She hailed the workshop for opening her eyes to the fact that there are organisations out there ready to support women empowerment and in particular their rise in politics.

Magreth Tauya from Bikita said the workshop taught women to be fearless as they enter politics. 

Winfrida Nedombwe said women are looked down upon in all leadership positions and the workshop emphasized their importance. The workshop made her realise her equality to men which she used to take for granted.

“It takes me back to the Garden of Eden. God created both men and women knowing that men cannot go it alone,” she said.

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