Women urged to run for political office


By Sharon Tawuya

Murehwa (New Ziana)-Women have been implored to contest for political office in the harmonised elections, due later this year, to ensure their issues are articulated.

This was said by Lilian Matsika Takaendisa, chief director, Gender Policy Planning and Programme Management in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs at commemorations marking International Women’s Day held in Murehwa, Mashonaland East province.

Takaendisa said it was disturbing to note that women, who constitute the majority of Zimbabwe’s population, continue to vote for men to political office.

“I call upon women to participate in the upcoming elections. Women, we are 52 percent of the population of Zimbabwe. Should we continue to vote for others?” she asked.

“We want women who will stand as councillors, MPS and Senators. Our issues are not being tabled in Parliament because it’s dominated by men. When you are not there, do not expect your gender issues to be brought by men into Parliament. We want to see women. It’s your right to occupy those spaces,” she said.

Takaendisa, however, said the ministry was aware that politically ambitious women are hounded out of the race by violence meted against them on social media and other online platforms.

“Women are mocked on social media especially during this election period. If a woman expresses interest to stand for political office, they are told off about their looks, labelled a prostitute and we see this happening especially against women. We see a lot of abuse happening even with young girls; their lives are messed up on social media,” she said.

“As we commemorate this day, we want to fight against that online gender based violence that is inflicted mostly against women and girls,” she added.

Asked what the government is doing to encourage women aspiring candidates, Takaendisa said the Ministry and its partners were on a mission to encourage women not to drop out of the race for political office.

“As the government, we are working on campaigns for peaceful elections that ensure the peace of women candidates who want to vie for political election and we are also working with our partners who are actually doing peace campaigns and raising awareness in the communities,” she said.

“We have partners who work specifically around those issues of protecting women aspiring candidates. We are saying it is a right of a woman to stand for political election and that person has to be protected,” she said.

Speaking at the same event, European Union ambassador, Jobst von Kirchmann spoke against gender based violence and child marriages.

“Mashonaland East province had the highest number of male inmates convicted for gender-based violence according to a 2021 report by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services. This province also had the third highest cases of child marriages in 2021 according to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission,” he said.

“But at the same time, Murehwa is also a place where there is a strong commitment of some of my fellow male counterparts to fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” he added.

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