Women’s participation in different levels of political activities is generally low throughout the world. Based on the 2019 statistics published by the UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), only 24.3% of the national parliament seats throughout the world are occupied by women. This has dealt a heavy blow to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 5, which clearly articulates political participation as one of the indicators for assessing gender equality.
As part of challenging the status quo, Kushinga Community Accountability Action Team, established by women working with Heal Zimbabwe in Zaka has made strides in taking a lead by convening community dialogues where they have challenged some patriarchal practices that seek to undermine the participation of women. Ever since the lockdown measures became operational, the CAAT has worked round the clock by creating virtual platforms where various community members and duty bearers participate actively. During a recent discussion, the CAAT convened a virtual dialogue on women participation in politics and other governance processes. Issues raised were that in most cases, women shy away from participating in political processes due to the violence that usually characterise politics. Women highlighted that some patriarchal practices prohibit women from speaking at public meetings which in most cases makes it difficult to be assertive and raise critical issues even during consultative meetings such as budget meetings and other developmental issues. The dialogue meeting also provided an opportunity for the CAAT to engage the local Councillor on the need to repair a local borehole stationed at Zengeya Primary School. To date, the borehole has since been repaired.
As part of way forwad, the dialogue meeting resolved that duty bearers such as Traditional leaders and Councillors were supposed to advocate for 50/50 representation at local level processes including clinics committees and school committees. The CAAT also resolved to continue holding duty bearers accountable and ensure that there is enhanced service delivery and that citizens’ rights are promoted. The CAAT is currently engaging the local Legislator on the need for dialogue on pertinent issues within the constituency.
A CAAT is a group of 25 women and youths from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace and demand social accountability from duty bearers. CAAT members were trained in conflict mediation, governance and social accountability.