n Ubuntu : Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation - Participation of women in Zimbabwean politics and the mirage of gender equity

Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2078-760X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4950


Zimbabwe has signed and ratified a number of regional and international instruments that call for gender equality in various spheres of life. However, in spite of the existence of these supportive instruments, the country has not fared well in advancing the participation of women in politics. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Gender and Development barometer reveals that whilst women participation in politics is still below agreed benchmarks, Zimbabwe's citizens seem to believe the country is doing well in that regard. This article argues that the discrepancy between the perceived and actual realities in relation to the participation of women in politics is not by accident but is founded on a systemic and calculated maneuver by politically dominant males to open up the political space when necessary and convenient for them. We argue, drawing examples from different political players, that the participation of women in politics has been more of manipulation than a genuine attempt to promote gender equality and equity. The article argues that whilst there have been some moves to bring about parity in numeric terms, there is a glass ceiling for women in terms of how far they can go up the political ladder. It is in this vein that we hypothesize that women have been sold a political dummy where through a raft of cosmetic measures they have been given an impression that they are equals in governance yet on the other hand recent political developments reveal that gender equity in governance remains a mirage for them.

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