CM: Yes, we need more women in Parliament. I am happy to note that there is debate in the National Assembly to extend the quota system beyond 2030. If this is not done, the worst case scenario is that we will drag the country 16 years back when we only had 10% of women representation in Parliament. As a committee, we will push hard to ensure that we do not have a skewed structure in the National Assembly that is in favour of men. There is need to advocate for different parties to have a quota system in their constitutions. Maybe through that we can have women participating more in politics. Parties should be disqualified for failing to meet that. Party lists to the nomination court and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should be 50/50 and if these are not they should be rejected. We will lobby for incentives for those companies that meet the 50/50 mark for women in decision-making positions. We also need to encourage young women to be involved in politics and senior women should mentor young girls.
ND: What are the challenges you see being faced by females MPs and women in politics?
CM: Violence is a major push away for women. Women are seen as sex objects, their contributions are not viewed in any manner other than that and this has forced many of them to stay away. Woman’s triple roles are also a challenge when it comes to participating in politics, being a politician, a mother and caregiver. It is also very difficult for a woman to make up her mind to enter politics. Once she makes up her mind, then she has to prepare her husband, children and family. A culture of patriarchy in Zimbabwe, especially within local power structures, makes it next to impossible for women to compete for political power. There is also lack of financial muscle. Women should appreciate that the political game is all about power and it’s not easy for anyone to just give power on a silver plate. Women need to stop being crybabies and work for those positions.
Politics needs a lot of confidence, which comes with knowledge so women need to be above board as far as information is concerned. Women are also their own worst enemies. They should learn to support each other, but this needs a lot of work for women to vote for each other.
ND: What is your general comment on gender-based violence (GBV) in Zimbabwe? How best can it be curbed?
CM: Zimbabwe is characterised by a high prevalence of GBV, and ranks 63rd out of 142 countries assessed by the Global Gender Gap Report (2014), signifying that large gender
disparities still exist. This poor ranking is in itself a manifestation of gender inequality and also serves to enforce it. Socio-economic factors such as age, level of education, economic dependence on males etc; are positively associated with vulnerability to abuse. Young women, less educated and unemployed women are more likely to experience abuse and believe that men are justified to exploit them. We need to address negative attitudes that fuel GBV like lack of respect for women. At workplaces, there is need for more awareness programmes for people to understand what GBV is, and the pieces of legislation in place for their protection. Perpetrators should be prosecuted. There is also need to push for the mandatory sentencing of rape and sexual abuse bill which has been proposed for over four years now.