By Takemore Mazuruse
Gender equality fosters economic resilience, productivity and inclusivity through equal participation of women in all spheres of life including politics.
To that end, Padare Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender, an organisation that works with men and boys to promote a gender just society is working with various partners to ensure women’s political participation.
Various programmes, community outreaches and trainings have been undertaken with the most recent one being the Padare Women’s Academy in politics in Bulawayo. It drew participants from Zanu PF, MDC Alliance as well as independent female political players.
According to Padare programmes development and fundrsaising manager Thando Makubaza, the three-day training was supported by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA) and is part of a three-year project towards enhancing women’s political participation in seven African countries, including Zimbabwe.
“Padare is driven by the desire to foster meaningful economic and community development through women emancipation, hence the hosting of this very important academy on women in politics,” said Makubaza.
“We want women across the political divide to play their part in national politics as stipulated in the constitution and we are happy that all the major political parties including some independent players are represented.
“We want to thank our funding partners, IDEA, for supporting this very important undertaking.
“IIDEA is an intergovernmental organisation that works to support and strengthen democratic institutions and processes around the world, to develop sustainable, effective, and legitimate democracies.”
“Their mission is to advance democracy worldwide, as a universal human aspiration and an enabler of sustainable development, through support to the building, strengthening, and safeguarding of democratic political institutions and processes at all levels.
“One of the IIDEA’s areas of focus is women, gender, and diversity and we are happy to be rolling out programmes that speak to that ideal as seen through this fully subscribed women in politics academy.”
According to Makubaza, the project is focusing on enhancing women’s political participation in Africa and is covering seven countries between 2020 and 2022, hence the training programme to enhance women’s understanding of the need for active participation in politics regardless of political preference and inclination.
“We want women across the political divide to tap into the political space and we strongly believe there is no better time than now,” Makubaza said.
“This International IDEA three-year Women Political Participation project, 2020 to 2022 is being implemented in seven countries Botswana, Eswatini, DRC, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal, and Zimbabwe, with support from, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
“International IDEA is leading a consortium comprising of 6 partners, International Federation of Standards Users, Women and Law in Southern Africa, Gender Links, The African Women’s Development and Communication Network, Forum for African Women Educationalists and Padare/Enkundleni Men’s forum on Gender (Padare) and we are working flat out to ensure that no woman is left behind where political participation is concerned.”
One of the participants to the women in politics academy, Viola Kachambwa of MDC Alliance in Binga said she felt encouraged by the training programme and will do her part in ensuring that women actively participate in politics.
“This is exactly what we need for development,” she said.
“I am a firm believer in the emancipation of women and I am happy that Padare working with International IDEA has taken us through this programme.
“Beyond partisan politics, women must come together to fight for their rights.
“It is our hope that in 2023 we will see more women participating in politics as candidates across the political divide.”
Sikathele Moyo of Zanu PF reiterated the need for meaningful women participation in politics.
“Women must come together and tap into the opportunities as created by government and the advocacy work being done by development partners like Padare and International IDEA so that together we arise a generation of empowered women,” Kachambwa said.
“We are all Zimbabweans and as women we must push for our rights and amancipation.”
Dingane Dhlomo from the Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development ministry emphasised government’s commitment to ensure women political participation.
“Women political participation is a good for our country and for development,” Dhlomo said.
“As a ministry and as government, we have continued to push for the empowerment of women so that they equally play their part in politics.
“We strongly believe no one should be left behind and we will continue creating avenues for this ideal to be achieved.
“This training fits into already existing programmes by government and we hope that our women work to embrace political participation regardless of their political affiliation.
“We also thank Padare and International IDEA for this training.”
According to Padare national director Walter Vengesai, the academy for women in politics is a big plus for their work as an organization.
“Padare/Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender is a movement of men advocating for Gender justice in Zimbabwe,” Vengesai said.
“It was founded in 1995 as a platform to identify, capacitate and support men and boys who believe in gender equality and to mobilise and influence other men.
“Through our work we create safe spaces for males to redefine masculinities through self-introspection and reflect on their treatment of women and girls.