Zimbabwe is signatory to key women’s rights and gender equality instruments including the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. These instruments form the background for women’s participation politics and public administration in Zimbabwe. This is supported by the Constitution which provides for equality between men and women and specifically provides for gender balance and the need for equal representation in all institutions and agencies of Government, including the Constitutional Commissions. From the foregoing, it is clear that the issue of women’s participation in politics and public administration is topical, not just for the State and its institutions, but also for civil society and the private sector because the Constitution is binding on all spheres of Zimbabwean society. While the Constitution provides the framework for meeting equality in Parliament and cabinet, numerical requirements are still to be met. There has been significant work done towards increasing women’s participation in politics and public administration as part of the attainment of the goal of gender equality. This work has largely been to build the leadership capacity of women at the various levels with the aim of increasing the number of women that are engaged and participate within their communities.
In Zimbabwe, the programme will be implemented against a background of enhanced efforts to increase participation by women in public life from a variety of stakeholders including women’s organizations, development partners, State institutions and within civil society. While progress has been noted in the increased number of women becoming engaged in national and local level processes, there still remain discrepancies between the levels of awareness and engagement by women in public processes and the number of women actually represented in decision making positions. In particular, women’s representation at the sub national/local government level is very low. Statistics show that the representation of women at Local Government level dropped by about 3% in the last harmonized elections in 2013 and that the majority of these losses were recorded in rural areas.