Few Women taking the Political Space in Bulawayo Matabeleland North and South
There is a growing concern that outside the quarter system, Zimbabwe may see reduced numbers of women participating as Members of Parliament (MP) in the upcoming 2023 Harmonized Elections. A snap survey of the Zanu PF primary election results in Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and North reveals that about seven women were nominated as Member of Parliament candidates out of 37 parliamentary seats up for grabs in the provinces.
According to the ZANU PF primary results published by the Chronicle Newspaper, Matabeleland North is leading with four nominated female MP candidates, who include Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, who represents Nkayi North; Cde Stars Mathe, who represents Nkayi South; Cde Siphathisiwe Ncube, who represents Lupane East; and Cde Simelisizwe Sibanda, who represents Bubi, out of 13 parliamentary seats. Cde Linda Chinamano, representing Entumbane-Njube, and Cde Cecilia Sibanda, representing Pelandaba-Tshabalala, are the two nominated female MP candidates out of 12 parliamentary seats in Bulawayo Province. In Matabeleland, South Cde Sindisiwe Nleya is the only nominated female candidate representing ZANU-PF in Mangwe Constituency out of 12 parliamentary seats in the province.
While there is a significant number of women putting themselves forward for elections, their participation compared to men is still far behind. Which can be attributed to individual, institutional, structural, and socio-cultural barriers.
Caroline Hubbard, an expert on the political empowerment of women, observes: “Women face barriers to political participation at three levels. First at the individual level, which includes their confidence, capacity, safety from violence, and connection to resources and power. Second, at the institutional and structural level, there is a myriad of gender-based exclusions that limit opportunities for women to participate in politics. Lastly, at the sociocultural level, where deeply entrenched gender norms curtail women’s political involvement and maintain their unequal status.”
Women‘s participation in political life contributes to gender equality, diversifies the policy issues discussed, and offers responsive solutions for countries.
“The gender of legislators has a distinct impact on their political priorities, making it crucial that women are present in political life to represent the concerns of women and other marginalized voters and to improve the responsiveness of policy development and governance,” says Hubbard.
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