WOMEN attending the international conference on economic and political empowerment and peace building in Harare have backed the quota system that enables them to take up decision making positions.Globally women have been living on the periphery of the political, economic and social landscape but with changing times they gradually began to claim their stake in the important positions in their respective countries. Speaking on political empowerment during a plenary session, at the on-going conference yesterday, Mrs Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu, a gender activist, said many countries have increased women's participation in decision-making positions. This, she said, was done through implementation of the quota system.


"From all our researches there is no country in the world that has managed to achieve at least 30 percent of female decision makers without a legislated quota system.

"Legislated quotas do not discriminate against men, but they simply re-right the wrongs of the past and remove barriers that impede women from holding the same positions as men," Mrs Kandawasvika-Nhundu said.


Women protesting for their rights (file photo).

Countries that have managed to achieve at least 30 percent female representation in decision making positions, include Rwanda with 56 percent, Mozambique 44,5 percent, South Africa 39 percent and Uganda 31,5 percent.

For 2005, the combined percentage of women parliamentarians surpassed the 30 percent threshold now revised to 50 percent across the African continent. However, latest statistics indicate that women comprise 14 percent of the Lower House, 33 percent of the upper house and 19 percent of all councillors in the country.

Mrs Kandawasvika-Nhundu said to increase women's participation in political activities there should be supporting legislation such as the electoral system and the constitution and intra-party democracy.

Dr Amany Asfour from the African Alliance for Women Empowerment spoke on how Africa was resourced yet it remained one of the poorest continents.

Dr Asfour said African women had good products but fail to brand, package and market them.

Giving special reference to a tomato project in Tanzania where tomatoes are dried in the sun and later packaged for resale in Europe, Dr Asfour urged women to invest in science and technology, human resources and education, among other things.

"Women need access to technology; they need to be networking, educated on project development and need education to be successful. They need to have the power for choice and voice," she said.

Turning to the third aspect of the conference, peace building, the United Nations' Mrs Elizabeth Luanga said women had a greater role in peace building of nations.

Mrs Luanga applauded Zimbabwe for setting the Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration as a step forward towards peace building of a nation. Speaking at the same occasion, the UN resident representative in Zimbabwe, Mr Alain Noudehou emphasised the need to formulate strategies and policies that advance women's economic and political empowerment. He said investing in women and girls was crucial for the accelerated achievement of all Millennium Development Goals

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