Hivos Southern Africa’s Women Empowered for Leadership programme in collaboration with UN Women, UNDP, the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe on March 6 launched the 50/50 Advocacy Campaign and the Women’s Manifesto at a colourful conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. The conference, which was themed ‘Constitutionalism, Gender Equality and the Future of Women’s Leadership in Zimbabwe’ saw hundreds of women and men from difference spheres coming together to advance gender equality in political spaces in Zimbabwe. The 50/50 advocacy campaign is a collaborative and consolidated equality campaign for the 2018 elections which brings together the entire Gender Machinery of Zimbabwe to advocate and consolidate efforts to secure the rights of women both in policy and in practise.
Speaking at the conference, Hivos Southern Africa Regional director, Ms Tanja Lubbers said gender equality is vital for development.
“Gender equality cannot be dismissed as a women’s issue only, it is a prerequisite for development and advancement of our entire society.”
She said, “Thanks to the gentlemen for supporting the cause, and recognizing that we can only develop our society if we do it together and if we give a role to 50% of our population,” adding that men are key in promoting gender equality.
Speaking up against Gender Inequality
Lubbers said it is important to speak out against gender inequality. “We need to stand united to change how women are regarded and treated in society. Women can be change makers and powerful leaders for the betterment of the broader society,” she said. She added that the advocacy campaign and launch of the manifesto had come at an important point in time, ahead of Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections to facilitate improving women’s participation in elections and more importantly as voters.
Minister of State for Manicaland Province and Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa reiterated the importance of gender advocacy and the manifesto.
"We as women contribute 200% of work just to prove we are as capable as men. So why not 50/50? As the women's movement, we need to embark on extensive advocacy to ensure Section 17 of gender balance and Section 56 of equality is adhered to," she said.
Zimbabwean women must rise
Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, who was guest of honour at the launch, said it was possible for Zimbabwe to have a female President in 2018 if women rise to the occasion. “We must continue to rise and rise until we have a female president leading Zimbabwe”, he said.
Mudenda officially launched the Women’s Manifesto, which calls on relevant authorities to promote policies and practices that advance women empowerment in decision making positions. He challenged the female politicians to put the philosophical matrix into action.
About Hivos Women Empowered for leadership Programme
Women Empowered for Leadership (WE4L) is a five-year programme (2016-2020) managed by Hivos and implemented together with local partners in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Jordan and Lebanon. The programme aims for women to have equal opportunities and the capacity to fully participate in political and societal decision-making processes by supporting empowered women leaders and organisations to use their skills and knowledge to create a more enabling environment for women’s participation and leadership on the ground.