Women urged to develop a thick skin, take up political positions

Women have been challenged to develop a thick skin and take up leadership positions in order to counter patriarchal values and norms which have over the years hindered their representation and participation in politics.

The challenge was made Tuesday by Nomalanga Dube from the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), Bulawayo chapter, during a Zoom meeting on enhancing women’s capacities to effectively participate in democratic processes in Zimbabwe.

“Women should develop a thick skin and be prepared to take hate speech that occurs when power shifts; women should start celebrating each other and develop strong networks and links that will serve our end game as women,” said Dube who also chairs the Young Women’s Forum within WCoZ.

“We should have funds available to support women in their election campaigns; we should teach women to make policies, they should know where laws fit for the greater good of the country.”

Dube said while in some countries there has been progress in women’s political leadership and decision making in the past three decades, Zimbabwe is still lagging behind.

“After 27 years after the Beijing Declaration adopted by 189 countries, there has been a rise of impressive leaders, for instance, Ellen Johnson, Mia Mottley and Angela Merkel,” she said.

“It is paramount to note that progress has been slow in countries such as Zimbabwe. Women remain under-represented in party politics, in parliament and cabinet. Women make up less than 50% of the parliamentarians yet gender parity is a constitutional requirement. Women also make up less than 14% of women councillors in Zimbabwe.

She said patriarchal values and norms have been at play when it comes to the representation and participation of women in politics

“Lack of support systems for women in politics has been another challenge,” she decried. Harassment and bullying among female politicians is another challenge hindering their participation, for example, derogatory terms such as ‘prostitute’ are some of the terms used to describe women in politics.”

She added: “Women`s rights organizations face a number of challenges in promoting and enhancing women`s participation in democratic processes and achieving gender equality. These challenges include, funding, lack of coordination among sister organizations and lack of consolidated database.”

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