The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Draft Constitution Guarantees Gender Equality

WOMEN will have equal representation with their male counterparts in all Government institutions on a 50-50 percent basis if the draft Constitution is passed by Parliament and stands the test during the referendum.

According to Chapter 2, Section 17 on Gender Balance of the draft Constitution, the State must promote full gender balance in Zimbabwean society.

"In particular, the State must promote the full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society on the basis of equality with men; the State must 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," reads the draft Constitution.

It is also explicit on the inclusion of women in commissions and other elective and appointed State bodies.

Reads the draft: "The State must take all measures, including legislative measures, needed to ensure that women constitute at least half the membership of all commissions and other elective and appointed governmental bodies established by or under this Constitution or any Act of Parliament."

The draft further urges the State and all institutions and agencies of Government at every level to "take practical measures to ensure that women have access to resources, including land, on the basis of equality with men".

It wants the State to take positive measures to rectify gender discrimination and imbalances resulting from past practices and policies.

The country is a signatory to various regional and international conventions and protocols that seek to create an enabling environment for attainment of gender equality.

These are the Beijing Declaration, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Violence Against Women, Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Sadc Declaration on Gender and Development, among other conventions.

Government has also been making frantic efforts to ensure gender balance with the National Gender Policy (2002) providing guidelines and institutional framework to engender all sectoral policies and activities at all levels in society.

Government also created a Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development in 1995 whose main mandate is co-ordination of gender programmes. Despite these efforts, the representation of women in key decision-making positions in the private and public sectors remains low. Zimbabwe is among a few African countries with a female Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and President of the Senate in VP Joice Mujuru, DPM Thokozani Khupe and Cde Edna Madzongwe respectively.

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