OPPOSITION Labour Economic Afrikaan Democrats (LEAD) president, Linda Masarira has lamented the unabated decline in the country’s number of female politicians in electoral processes.
She said a paltry 15% of contestants in the upcoming 26 March by-elections were female, a development that signals a steady decrease in women political participation as a result of entrenched stereotypes.
Masarira said: “The decline in women participation in electoral processes continues as only 15% of the duly nominated candidates for the 26 March by-elections are women. In Zimbabwe, women continue to be marginalised by structural deformities in our cultural, social, religious and political stereotypes. Women are still viewed as second class citizens which has stifled full realisation of women’s rights on our country.”
The LEAD president made the remarks to mark International Women’s Day commemorations held Tuesday March 8. This year’s theme was theme ‘#BreakTheBias.’
“As we celebrate IWD this year under the campaign theme #BreakTheBias, we need to be sincere as Zimbabwean women to unite for a cause. What is our cause? Contrary to the assertion that we are making improvements in terms of gender equality in public elected offices, 2018 general elections showed a steep decline of women elected into public office compared to 2013 elections,” said Masarira, who is contesting the Harare Central parliamentary seat.
Political violence, she said, was the major inhibitor of women participation in politics, while women living with disabilities had shown interest to run for public office in 2018, but later withdrew their intentions due of harassment and discrimination.
She made a clarion call to all women to ensure that they play a participatory role in advocating for gender equality and ensuring the protection of women’s rights in all spheres, including the church.
“Women in Zimbabwe continue to suffer from historical marginalisation and structural inequalities that exist in the political, social and economic spheres. Historically, the colonisers made sure that women stayed in the rural areas whilst the men were in towns or mines working and that strengthened the patriarchal system and gender inequalities prescribed by cultural, religious and traditional norms.”
She added: “There is nothing for women without women and every woman’s hands should be on the deck to ensure that all women worldwide are treated as equals. Our cause is to achieve a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equalities.”