In a quest to improve their participation in democratic and electoral processes, women in Mvuma engaged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) so as to get a deeper understanding of how they can safely participate throughout the electoral cycle.
Despite constituting a huge proportion of population figures, women remain under-represented in electoral and governance processes where decisions pertaining to their lives are made. The community of women in Mvuma sought knowledge specifically on how they can participate as candidates, voters or election workers.
The Freedom of Information Act provides citizens with the right to access information and also creates legal frameworks and mechanisms for accessing information from public and private bodies.
Speaking at a Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe’s (WCoZ) engagement Forum, Sithengisiwe Kalenge, who is WCoZ’s Focal person for Mvuma district said the awareness forum had come at an opportune time when women were still lacking basic knowledge on electoral issues.
“Our participation is still very low and already there is minimal interest in participation as reflected by those who will participate in the upcoming by-elections. There is a lack of confidence and harassment and intimidation of women to an extent that women end up thinking that politics is a no go area for them.
Enhanced knowledge will result in improved participation. We are advocating for equal participation as enshrined in our constitution.”
Kalenge said women must begin to inspect their names in the voters roll ahead of the March 26 and next year’s elections.
“It is imperative that women participate in the ongoing inspection of the voters roll, check documents required by one to take to the polling station, voting information and priorities for women with disabilities, breastfeeding and pregnant mothers and how to identify your correct polling station.”
Meanwhile, ZEC Provincial officer for Midlands, Mrs Dorcas Mpofu encouraged first-time voters to ensure that they acquire national identity documents required for one to vote.
Women and girls’ rights organization, Tag a Life International (TaLI), last year launched the “My Freedom of Information campaign” to raise awareness on the Freedom of Information Act for vulnerable groups.