By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Thirty two years after independence Zimbabwean women are still lagging behind when it comes to the occupation of positions in local authorities.
While some have made it in the Parliament of Zimbabwe very few occupy position in local government.
Naome Chimbetete , executive director of the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN), said for women to achieve this a violence free environment conducive to helping women get positions of influence must be created.
She said: “We need to create an environment that is conducive for every woman to participate in elections at all levels, and provide them with resources that can also help them to campaign and be able to stand up against men.”
She added that that many women experience a lack of respect, and very few have position in authority as a result.
Chimbetete said Zimbabwe’s 2008 harmonised election were the worst in the country’s history as there was a reversal in terms of putting women in decision making processes.
“We were hoping to get more mayors and councillors in terms of women but sadly it’s the opposite,” she added.
Launching a training manual on local government gender budgeting, which was developed by ZWRCN, Dr Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, said there is unfairness because mayoral positions are dominated by men despite the municipality or council duties having much to do with women.
“Not even a single woman is a mayor in our country, what does that mean? There is unfairness because many issues in council are about women so l think if women are there, they will do their jobs in the best interest of other women,” said Dr Chombo.
Chimbetete said ZWRCN had developed the manual for local government after realizing the gap. She said that addressing gender at high level is not enough because the practical aspects of day-to-day living and service provision lie within local government.
Chimbetete said her organisation has been working with six pilot local authorities around gender budgeting and how this can be crafted.
She added: “We have been working together with these local authorities for the past three years and we have realized that there is need to develop some sort of a document that they can actually work with. It becames apparent that local authorities and other sub-national structures be capacitated in making public policies and decisions with a view to address gender disparities.”
The manual provides technical assistance and understanding on what gender budgeting is and articulates the gender issues at local and municipal levels.
ZWRCN is an information based organisation with a focus on building knowledge and promoting gender equality at all levels.