By Romeo Takundwa
Violence and patriarchy have continually perpetuated the historical marginalization of women in the field of politics and governance, ZEC has said.
This was revealed by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Commissioner Laetitia Kazembe during a virtual public meeting recently hosted by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).
The Civil Society Organization which advocates for citizen participation in issues of governance and democracy held the meeting under the theme “Effective Participation and Representation of Women in Zimbabwe’s Electoral Democracy”.
During the engagement, Commissioner Kazembe noted that incidents of violence that characterize the country’s politics as well as the patriarchal nature of our society have continued to deter women from participating in issues of governance.
“Issues that continue to be problematic include violence and patriarchy. Even though we have legal provisions promoting the participation of women, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Instead there is need to promote women participation in electoral processes through incentivizing them and creating structures that safeguard them from all forms of violence.
Commissioner Kazembe recommended that perpetrators of violence be arrested and also called for a more holistic and expanded legal framework with more ‘teeth’ to deal with perpetrators of violence.
Namatai Kwekweza from Women Empowerment for Leadership Advancement Trust (WeLEAD) outlined the different types of violence that women encounter.
“Violence against women is often perpetrated physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially, mentally and culturally. Women, including young women belong to communities, cultures, families and groups before they participate in electoral processes.
“In these groups, women are often treated differently in a way that disadvantages them. Religion and culture are used as weapons against women, particularly young women. Women are humiliated for being powerful and refrain from participation in electoral processes because they do not want to be misfits or outliers in society,” she said.
The virtual meeting which was held against the backdrop that the demographic of women voters is not reflective in terms of their participation in leadership and decision making in elections drew panelists from Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Zimbabwe electoral Commission and other Civil society Organizations which promotes women’s participation in politics.