by Fiona Mpofu
Women have called for more open discussions on women's empowerment and involvement in politics, saying it is high time such discussions included both men and women so as to come up with inclusive policies.
This was expressed at the recently held Intwasa arts festival programme on the role and place of women's voices in Zimbabwe.
Many said, the current political and economic challenges highlighted that policies in the country are not framed with women's interests at heart. Women thus have to play an active part in policy making.
“I think it should have been more open because we keep having this conversation amongst ourselves as women and it's time that the conversation had a bigger platform with both men and women in the same space. If we want to make any change it has to be a balanced audience because as it is, we are just talking and going nowhere,” said one of the panellists, Taremeredzwa Chirehwa.
Tafadzwa noted that coming up with solutions to the women’s involvement in politics and the economics of the country is not a one man’s job whereby an individual comes up with ideas and carries them through , but is the duty of everyone to ensure that women are heard and are also involved in politics.
“I do it in my own way in my work space, in how I work and what I do so for example by deliberately wearing a t-shirt that says I am a woman what’s your super power? That gets people to start thinking, so each person then has to now decide how they can make a change in their space and eventually with time it has a ripple effect and changes the entire society, but one person can’t do it,” said Taremedzwa.
Gugu Mkhwananzi currently a law student said the discussion showed her that it was crucial to involve women of different sectors, social statuses, races and cultures in discussions that seek to elevate women in the country.
“I think we learnt that there is need for us as women to support each other so that we also strive to fill the gender gaps. There is need for us to participate in political and economical fields,” said Yvonne. She added, “Men have to attend these events, at least they will get the views first hand not through the media because right now they are going to get maybe what we talked about through the media but there is the need to then also attend such workshops.”
Such platforms have been provided and only women attend and raise their issues and their problems but no solutions are offered. The student of law highlighted that it was high time women took action and stopped identifying their flaws and failing to offer a way forward.
“We need to start putting some action into it if we are going be saying these are the issues from the beginning of the year. An example is if we talk about gender based violence, we may take it to social media but what do we do from there? Do we need to start going on the streets? Do we need to start marching? Do we need to start going to policy discussions and putting forward policies? Do we need to start engaging the police? You know like the actual discussion that we need to do moving forward from just taking it on social media and the media,” added Gugu.
Thandekile Moyo a writer said that it is crucial for women to also get involved in politics and to understand that they are excluded from these platforms because of the policies that are formulated against women. She added that the only way to eliminate them was for women to be part of the policy makers.
“Before we encourage women to get into parliament we need to train them, they need to be trained on what exactly it is they are going to do in parliament on how to handle themselves what to fight for when they are in parliament,” said Moyo.
The writer highlighted that women need workshops to equip them with knowledge on what to do in parliament because they might have the capability of sitting in parliament and not knowing what they should address which would help them as women.
“All these issues should be addressed at policy levels, so that even when a president gets into power they need to know that the law says there should be an equal representation in parliament,” said Thandekile.