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Women and Politics - where does Zimbabwe stand? WIPSU launch: 25 Nov 09

WIPSU (Women in Politics Support Unit), a feminist organization focusing on women's participation in the political spaces, launched a research on the Gender audit of political parties in Zimbabwe, namely ZANU PF and the MDC Tsvangirai and MDC Mutambara.The launch took place in Harare on the 25th of November, coinciding with the commemoration of the 16 days of activism on Gender Based Violence which starts on the 25th of November up to the 10th of December

Various speakers from various political parties(including Hon.Oppah Muchinguri, Hon Theresa Makone,Hon Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, among other dignitaries) stated above delivered their speeches and reiterated the need for political parties to commit themselves on gender equality both on paper and in reality. They also stated that since Zimbabwe is a signatory to CEDAW,African Charter on Human and People's Rights as well as the SADC Gender Protocol, it was essential for the political parties to ensure that they adhere to the principles of gender equality as stated in the above regional and international human rights instruments.They also encouraged women to take an active role in the constitutional review process, so that their issues are included in the final draft of the constitution that will ensure that their civil liberties and socio-economic rights are respected and fulfilled by the state.

Dr Tsitsi Choruma, ActionAid Zimbabwe's Country Director, gave a presentation on the exchange tour that women parliamentarians and staff members from ActionAid Zimbabwe and MS Zimbabwe underwent in Rwanda in September 2009, where they learnt about how women in politics holding key positions in government, managed to rise from the 1994 Rwanda genocide, that left many people dead and many women abused (sexually, physically and emotionally).This was a learning experience for women in politics in Zimbabwe for them to reflect on their situation and come together in instilling sustainable peace in the communities and in the country as a whole.

The discussions in the plenary after the presentations focused on the need for women to take an active role in the political sphere, for that's where policies and critical decisions are made regarding their social being. Rwanda’s experience of gender equality in politics, where 50% of parliamentarians are women, showed that changes in women's lives can be noted, as a result of having women at the top level making decisions that affect the general women in communities.

All forms of violence including political violence were denounced during the launch and various political parties were challenged to address political violence in their organizations and how it negatively affects women and children. Recommendations from other participants also focused on the need for women parliamentarians in various political parties to engage with their colleagues in other SADC (Southern African Development Community) so that they learn on how they have been handling issues of gender equality in their various political parties and be able to come up with a model constitution around gender equality in political parties

My personal reflections on the launch were focused on the need for political parties to create the platform that is conducive for even young women to have a keen interest in becoming political activists. Only then, can women be seen being active participants in various political parties.

For more information on the launch, kindly get in touch with WIPSU Director, Ms Fanny Chirisa - fannychirisa@yahoo.com or Ms Tsitsi Mhlanga-Information and Campaigns Officer- tsitsimhlanga@gmail.com.

Compiled by Tafadzwa Muropa (who was also a participant at the launch of the research)

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