The Sunday Mail
Male chauvinism and sexism have no place in Zimbabwe and should be condemned wherever they manifest, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
At a women’s interface in Harare yesterday, the President deplored sexist attacks against female election officials and candidates.
Senior female Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials have been at the receiving end of serious attacks on their gender by the opposition MDC Alliance.
The attacks have elicited strong condemnation from local and international figures, including former Irish President Mrs Mary Robinson.
Yesterday, President Mnangagwa said: “My administration is strongly committed to protecting and promoting women’s rights, preventing gender-based violence and reducing gender inequalities.
“To this end we are making progressive changes to legislation to strengthen the protective environment for girls and women. Going forward, we will, together with other stakeholders, put in place comprehensive frameworks that ensure the requisite safety nets for single headed households and other related vulnerable groups.
“Allow me to state that in the new Zimbabwe there is no room for chauvinism and sexism or any form of abuse towards women or any sector of the society, no matter the pretext or circumstances.
“I join the nation in deploring and condemning some sexist slurs and attacks uttered during the election period. Such conduct has no place in our society. I challenge the media to stand up and tackle a lead on issues that affect women.”
President Mnangagwa said gender equality was at the centre of his administration’s agenda.
He said his Government would enact legislation and introduce policies that engendered inclusivity and equality.
“Amidst the opening up of democratic space, increased freedoms and all the changes in the new dispensation, there must also be a new era of equal gender relations,” said the President.
“One of the key principles of the new Zimbabwe is equality irrespective of age, political persuasion, ethnicity, race and of course gender. I bemoan the few numbers of women who succeeded to represent political parties in the forthcoming elections.
“I urge all stakeholders and political parties to collectively address this issue going forward. The progress and freedom we have started will continue in the journey ahead. We will not leave behind, the other 50 percent of our people, you women.
“Our national constitution, the foundation of our legal system states that ‘Every woman has full and equal dignity of the person with men and this include equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities’. We are convinced that it is time we realised this.”
President Mnangagwa said Government would continue prioritising the elevation of women to leadership positions across the economic and social spectrum.
“In the same vein, we will ensure that our education sector at every level, including vocational skills training centres and the awarding of national scholarships are more accommodative to women.
“On the economic front, we have increased women’s access to credit finance, through the creation of facilities such as the Zimbabwe Women’s Micro-Finance Bank, the first of its kind in Southern Africa, as well as the Empower Bank, which I opened recently.”