The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) in partnership with the Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) with support from the Netherlands Embassy between 04-09 December 2022 travelled to Goromonzi and Hurungwe and conducted training of trainers (TOT) sessions with 100 aspiring women leaders on electoral reforms and the law.
The training sessions on electoral reforms equipped the participants with knowledge on what electoral reforms are and why it is important to push for their implementation. The women have already began imparting he same on other aspiring women leaders creating a network and movement of women advocating for reforms.
The women identified that the police are a critical arm of the state as they maintain law and order however it is important to note that electoral violence in Zimbabwe does not normally take place on polling day and so deploying huge numbers of police officers on polling day which is usually peaceful does not address violence that takes place before and after polling day.
At the end of the meetings, the women noted that:
• The Government was taking long to implement gender equality provisions of the constitution (sections 17, 56 and 80) which guarantee equality.
• The Government has not aligned the Electoral Act with the Constitution in order to ensure gender balance.
• Aspiring women leaders have limited access to both public and private media and when they are covered they are usually portrayed in a negative manner.
• Cases of hate speech and inflammatory language against aspiring women leaders are increasing as the country heads towards the national elections.
• Incidences of violence, harassment, intimidation and sexual harassment against aspiring women leaders are on an increase.
• The steep nomination fees for candidates proclaimed by ZEC will discourage women from running for public office.
Women leaders vowed to continue engaging the Government to put in place mechanisms that create a conducive environment for women to excel in leadership and decision making positions.