Source: The Herald
WOMEN are demanding political parties to reserve half the number of council seats for them as part of measures to achieve the 50-50 representation by 2015.

This entails that political parties agree on specific wards to be reserved for women candidates to stop them fighting each other for the seats.

However, in the past male candidates not happy with the policy have gone to contest as independents and won the seats and in the process defeated the empowerment initiative.

Addressing the Zimbabwe Local Government and Gender Justice summit and Awards summit here yesterday, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo, said 18 percent of elected urban councillors were women.

He said empowerment of women remained Government's top priority as shown by the ratification of the Sadc protocol on Gender and Development in 2009.

He urged all stakeholders to work hard to ensure that Zimbabwe achieved the 28 targets set for 2015, most of which were aimed at ending gender violence.

The summit was organised by Genderlinks, a regional body committed to the equal participation of men and women in public and private life.

The meeting is running under the theme "365 days of local action to end violence and empower women."

"I hope this number will increase to the desired level in the forthcoming general elections as these will be the last before 2015 deadline," he said.

Participants to the summit felt the figures were achievable but feared that political violence may discourage women from contesting.

Their rallying slogan "2015 -- Yes We Must -- Yes We Must -- The Time is Now" confirmed the resolve in achieving equal representation.

Minister Chombo reiterated that from an integrity stand point women had proved to be less corrupt than their male counterparts.

"I have not intervened with disciplinary action for any woman councillor since the last elections," he said.

He said he led by example as shown by the appointments in his ministry where 44 percent of directors are women, 31 percent district administrators are women as well as 33 percent provincial administrators.

He said Kwekwe had scored a first by having the first woman town clerk in Zimbabwe.

Genderlinks is a Sadc non-governmental organisation with the mandate to implement the regional protocol on gender.

Kadoma mayor Peter Matambo said the biggest hindrance to the participation of women in politics was violence either advanced by other women on fellow females or by men.

He said political violence should be eliminated to encourage women to participate.

The summit agreed that there was need to have full media support to drive the 50-50 representation agenda and to lobby political parties to reserve half their wards for women.

The summit will produce winners in various categories who will proceed to contest at the regional competition to be held at the regional summit in Johannesburg next month.

At the last summit Zimbabwe won five awards coming second to Zambia which scooped six accolades.

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