Women Parliamentary Caucus trained on Gender and elections
From the 12th to the 14th of September 2014 the Women Parliamentary Caucus converged at Kadoma Ranch hotel to take the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) module in gender and elections. The three day workshop interrogated issues pertaining to women’s participation in elections and also explored strategies to overcome the various barriers faced by women. The workshop was also attended by some of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Commissioners, ZEC secretariat members and the media.
The Gender and Elections course looked at a number of issues including; why women’s participation is important, how to improve it, the electoral process and strategies to promote women’s participation. The workshop also explored tools for analysing elections from a gender perspective. The workshop deepened women parliamentarians’ understanding of the electoral process and how they are affected by activities of the various stages of the electoral cycle. Most importantly, the workshop provided a platform for them to discuss various issues that affect them as women in electoral processes.
The workshop examined the following themes; Women in Parliament and the political world, targets and numbers, electoral systems, quotas and special measures, gender responsive governance, political financing; challenges and barriers encountered by women; electoral violence; Voter Registration, Voter and Civic Education and Women the media, and election observation.
Participants noted that although women constitute the majority of the population they remain under represented in political office. Their participation is hampered by; lack of adequate electoral information, stringent voter registration requirements, negative and inadequate coverage of women by the media, electoral intimidation and violence against women, lack of financial resources to compete with men. The current electoral system of special temporary measure of quotas needs to be reviewed in order to be permanent in order to fully guarantee gender balance and representation of women.
Speaking during the opening of the workshop the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa said that the workshop would not only build competencies for women parliamentarians but also propel gender equality in political representation.
ZEC Commissioner Dr Petty Makoni encouraged women to document their experiences and keep record of the progress that they have made since they assumed office. This is important in order to share experiences and publicise the impact that they are making as legislators in their various constituencies.
Participants expressed gratitude for such initiatives and called upon ZESN to continue holding such workshops for women as they are critical in efforts to improve their participation in peaceful electoral processes.
The workshop was organized by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and was facilitated by Rindai Chipfunde Vava, the ZESN National Director, Molly Kamukamu, a Consultant from Uganda and Rejoice Sibanda who works for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.