Demand for Gender Balance and Equality in Decision-Making Roles

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1.We, the undersigned women’s rights groups and activists hereby present this petition, noting the following:

BACKGROUND

·According to the ZimStats 2012 Population Census Women and Men Profile Summary Report, women constitute 51.9% of the Zimbabwean population, while men constitute 48.1%, thus giving a clear picture that there is a higher number of women than men in Zimbabwe.

·Despite women constituting the majority, they have continued to be regarded as the minority in terms of representation in access to resources and political life, decision-making and governance processes. Democracy can thus not be achieved where half the population is not adequately represented.

·Gender balance and equal participation of men and women in all spheres of Zimbabwe society is thus fundamental to the achievement of democracy and sustainable growth of the country. Despite several provisions of the Constitution emphasizing and recognizing the need for gender balance and gender equality, women’s representation in all spheres of the Zimbabwean society remains extremely low.

Public appointments, elective bodies, government institutions and bodies that were made between 2018-2019 demonstrate that the principles of gender equality and gender balance have been disregarded. These include:

1.The recent Commission of Inquiry appointed to look into the violent events of 1 August 2018.    The President appointed a 7member Commission, which was composed of 5 men and only 2 women.

2.The current composition of Parliament- the Lower House is constituted by 85 women (31%) and 185 men, the Upper House- 35 women (43%) and 45 men

3.Local government Councilors -190 women (13.3%) and 1169 men

4.The current Cabinet composition where 14 Ministers are men, only 6 are women (30%).

5.The composition of the Presidium where men constitute 100% and women 0%

6.The recently appointed Advisory Council to the President, where out of 26 Advisors, only 4 are women.

·These are merely examples that reflect on gender imbalance in decision-making roles. This scenario further extends to Board members of Parastatals, Public Sector, Judiciary, Vice Chancellors of State Universities, Heads of Government Schools.

2. Cognizant of the provisions of Constitution of Zimbabwe, we therefore believe that the status quo regarding women’s representation in Zimbabwe is ultra virez the Constitution, a clear violation of the Supreme law of the land.

·Section 17 provides that the State must promote full gender balance in Zimbabwean society, and in particular, promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society. The same provision also mandates the State to take all measures, including legislative measures, needed to ensure that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at every level, and that women constitute at least half the membership of all Commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies.

·The State must take positive measures to rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past practices and policies.

3.  As the women’s movement we are therefore deeply aggrieved that the provisions of the Constitution have not been fully implemented. We emphasize that gender balance and equality is not for the exclusive benefit of women, but for the benefit of the nation. It is for achievement of democracy, as we cannot talk about democracy when half population is excluded. We believe that spirited efforts must be made towards a gender-balanced society where women are not treated as a minority, where women’s rights are not treated as peripheral to the world that counts.

4. It is against this background that we petition Parliament in terms of s149(1) and demand the following:       

1.Enactment of a Gender Parity Act or any other legislation that specifically and clearly provides for mandatory gender parity in all public, political and government appointments and other elective bodies, in line with section 17(1)(b) of the Constitution.

2.Development of laws that allow for equal access to representation in political, economic and decision-making processes.

Wherefore, your petitioners pray that your Honorable House will be pleased to take their case into favorable consideration, and grant such relief as prayed for.

And your petitioners as, in duty bound, will ever pray.