ZIMBABWEAN female politicians said women have broken the political glass ceiling with four candidates having run for the presidential elections in the countrya��s landmark polls held on Monday.
Female politicians expressed their happiness with the status quo during an inter-party dialogue on regional parties and women led parties organised by the Habakkuk Trust at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel President room recently, ahead of the polls.
National chairperson of the Peoplea��s Democratic Party (PDP), Lucia Matibenga said women were not yet where they intended to be but were happy with the progress that she described as significant.
a�?Out of a total of 23 presidential candidates, we had four women. Despite peoplea��s different political orientations, the fact that four women were running for president shows that there has been a dynamic shift and women are prepared to lead,a�? she said.
Joice Mujuru of the Peoplea��s Rainbow Coalition, Thokozani Khupe of MDC-T, Violet Mariyacha of United Democratic Movement and Melbah Dzapasi of Freedom Movement are the ladies who chose to take the bull by the horns in Mondaya��s elections.
a�?Women have broken the political glass ceiling and this is a necessary process as we continue embarking on our journey,a�? said Matibenga.
She said the future of Zimbabwe lay in womena��s leadership.
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, proportional representation legislator for Matabeleland South decried abuse of women in offices of authority and called for the public to separate onea��s office from gender.
a�?We have a lot of women being persecuted not only for their incompetence in office but for their womanhood. People must be held accountable for actions, responsibilities, and not judged on gender basis,a�? she said.
She lashed out at people who had been castigating the Zimbabwe Electoral Commissiona��s chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba.
Asked if Zimbabwe was ready for a female president, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said women were not ready only for a male toilet.
a�?The only place that is not ready for women is a toilet that is marked a�?mena�?. Women have been ready for leadership since time immemorial; and exceptional women have led and shown that women are capable, if not even better, of leadership,a�? said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.
She urged women to unite and support each other even if their views were different.
a�?We have one common enemy, the system of patriarchy, so we need to begin to be united even if our strategies are different. No women in the house of Assembly because most of the people use sex as a tool of oppression.
a�?There is an assumption that the presidium is the preserve of a particular gender which goes against my beliefs,a�? said Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.
Matibenga applauded women for working across political parties, a development which she described as a first.
Matibenga urged women not to be caught up in polarisation which she said plagued the country.
a�?Some womena��s organisations get caught up easily in the polarisation going on in the country. We are involved in various interventions including encouraging women to go out and vote,a�? said Matibenga.
a�?Women bring life to the world, yet the same world starts questioning the ability of women to lead a country,a�? she said.