25 February 2019

Zimbabwe: Women's Active and Full Participation in Electoral Processes Key to Democracy

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Women's Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) notes the setting of dates for the Movement for Democratic Change Party Congress to be held from 24 to 26 May 2019. WALPE takes this occasion to call on the political party to ensure women get a fair opportunity to compete for leadership positions at all levels. Women's political empowerment and access to leadership positions at all levels are fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the UN Women 50/50 gender representation agenda.

As the MDC goes on a leadership renewal exercise, WALPE appeals for a level playing field for all contestants. The party must guarantee an environment that is free of violence, harassment and victimisation of women contesters, name calling, body shaming and cyber bullying of female candidates. Further, the party must outlaw vote buying which creates an imbalance for women who are traditionally under resourced. WALPE urges the party to set up an independent disciplinary and dispute resolution committee to adequately deal with potential cases of violence against women and/or infringement of ethical codes of conduct and those found guilty must be held accountable.

The organisation also calls upon the political party to ensure that all Congress related processes are done during friendly hours which will allow women to freely participate. Elections that run well into the night curtails women's participation as they have other important social responsibilities to attend to. Therefore, all programming related to Congress must be gender sensitive.

Women's participation is important for internal party democracy and for broader development of national democracy as such, it is critical to ensure women compete for leadership positions at all levels of party structures instead of second tier positions such as deputies, welfare or portfolio secretaries.

Going forward, WALPE will closely monitor and report on leadership renewal processes of all political parties to inform national and international opinion on how individual parties are faring in promoting women political participation and leadership.

Source: Women's Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)

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