Societal hostility, patriarchy and cyberbullying are some of the reasons why women shy away from participating in political spaces.
This came out during a round table discussion hosted by Cultural Information Trust (CIT) in Bulawayo, Friday.
The discussion, termed Reality Reflections, was an interface between journalists and local potential news sources aimed at finding out why women do not participate in political spaces and as sources for news on issues of national importance.
Journalism Advisor at CIT Buhle Nkomo reiterated that it is important for women to take on authoritative roles on news platforms in order to amplify voices of fellow women and to change the narrative that women are incapable of holding priority roles.
“It is not only here in the Matabeleland region that women shy away from such spotlights. It is an international crisis. It is sad that we keep saying women are not getting enough representation but only a few are brave enough to take the stand,” Nkomo said.
“We rarely see women commenting on news stories nor on social media spaces where political issues are debated. Those are some of the platforms that women can actually take advantage of to comment on issues that affect them and call for the change they need.”
The participants, from various sectors of the society-business women, members of the civic space, lawyers and those from various ministries noted that the political sphere is not safe for women, judging from what female politicians go through.
“There are women who are already in politics and we have seen how the society is so hostile towards them. The manner in which they are called derogatory names on social spaces is very demotivating, we decide to keep our peace and stay away,” one participant stated.
“Social media is very toxic. We have seen how some women fall victim to cyberbullying when they talk about issues of national importance. Also, it is demotivating that some of those in politics already are given less prominent posts. If we look at the women’s quota system, we find that women are rarely given influential posts and for this they get ridiculed by fellow politicians.”
Journalists in attendance noted that sometimes women decline from talking on issues that affect them directly, citing fear of disapproval from their husbands.
“Sometimes when we go to communities, women decline to comment especially on national issues. They prefer to give the platforms to their husbands. Sometimes they do agree to talk off the record but we feel like that is not enough. They need to speak out and articulate what they want and what affects them,” a journalist noted.