Zimbabwe: Local Government helps promote gender equality

Zimbabwe: Local Government helps promote gender equality

Date: June 26, 2015
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Harare, 26 June: Zimbabwe local governments have joined other stakeholders in the move to promote gender equality in all spheres. They have promised to spearhead the fight for gender equality in their different rural and urban councils.

Different councils were contesting for awards at the second day of the ongoing Zimbabwe SADC Gender Protocol Summit 2015 held in Harare. In their presentations, different councils explained how they have adopted projects that address gender imbalances within selected wards.

The Bulawayo City Council said it has pushed for gender equality in land and housing stands allocated to residents in 2014 with a significant number of women getting these stands. The council said an average of 29 percent of people who got stands in Mahatshula, Emhlangeni, Pumula and Emganwini were single females with the remainder being constituted by couples and single males.

The council also said it ensures that both women and men benefit equally from other activities with 39 men and 42 women getting Econet Green Shops (kiosk) and 46 men and 64 women getting soft drinks bays.

An official from Umguza Council said the local authority is ensuring that gender equality is promoted from early stages. She said it has further helped in coming up with a Girls Football team in one of its wards as a way of empowering the women.

The Bindura City Council shared that in its efforts towards gender equality, applicants for land are encouraged to include their spouses on the applications. The council said this development was meant to address the challenge where in most cases some men would put their stands in their names at the expense of their spouses. In the event of widowhood, those spouses stand a greater risk of losing those homes to greedy relatives.

The Zimbabwe SADC Gender Protocol Barometer 2015, however, highlighted that women’s representation in local government – urban and rural councils – decreased from 19 percent to 16 percent following the 2013 general elections. “This is due to the absence of a special measure in the new Constitution for women at this level,” reads the Barometer.

“In addition, stakeholders at this level conducted the election of the urban and rural councilors using the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, which does not favour the representation of women candidates.” The FPTP is an electoral system whereby the candidate with the majority votes takes all. It is different from the proportional representation (PR) system which recognizes the ratios of voters by all candidates. This means that even women candidates who have not won, will be represented based on their percentage won.

This system is what was use in the 2013 elections where an additional 60 seats in parliament where reserved for women candidates based on the percentage that their party won in the elections.
The Barometer also adds that the constitutional alignment process provides an opportunity for a strong and visible lobby movement deriving from Chapter 17 which calls for gender balance in public and private institutions. The advocacy would be for lawmakers to implement the gender balance measure to increase women’s representation in the local authorities beyond the 2018 elections.

This article is part of the Gender Links News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summits underway across the region, offering fresh views on everyday news.


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