6 Promote gender equality and empower women

Where we are?


Women participation in political and economic decision-making still lagging. The Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) is low (0.361 in 1995 to 0.402 in 2003 ), indicating that females are still far behind male empowerment. Photo - UNDP Zimbabwe
  • Significant progress in narrowing gender disparities in both primary and secondary education with NER both by boys and girls reaching parity at 91 percent in 2009.
  • Female university enrolment increased from 23 percent in 2006 to 37 percent in 2007 but still below the target of 50 percent by 2015.
  • Zimbabwe signed and ratified the CEDAW (1991), Beijing Platform of Action (1995), SADC Declaration on Gender and Development, National Gender Policy 2003, constitution of Zimbabwe section 23 and the national gender machinery.
  • A full-fledged Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development established in 2005.
  • To mainstream gender in public service, the 2004 Public Sector Gender Policy put in place with gender focal points in all Ministries and parastatals.
  • Women participation in political and economic decision-making still lagging. The Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) has increased from 0.361 in 1995 to 0.402 in 2003 which is low and indicating that females are still far behind male empowerment.
  • The participation of women in lower house at Parliament in Zimbabwe is still low and the target is to increase to 50 percent by 2015

Status and Trends

In 2009, the Public Service Commission had 67% women commissioners. In 2010 women comprise 20% of cabinet ministers and 26% of permanent secretaries. In government, 26% of principal directors are currently women, as are 33% of directors and 28% of deputy directors. Women constitute 30% of ambassadors and heads of mission, 29% of Supreme and High Court judges, 41% of magistrates. The Defence Forces have no women at the highest levels and very few at lower levels. In the police force 25% of deputy commissioners are women.

In the 2005 elections, women comprised 28% of councillors in rural district councils and 10.5% in urban councils. Now, women comprise 18% of urban councillors and 19% of rural councillors.

Although approximately 52% of the population in Zimbabwe is female; women are disproportionately represented in politics and in other decision-making positions. While there is gender parity in primary school level, and near gender parity at lower second­ary level, particularly in the lower forms (Forms 1 to 4), the gender parity decreases in upper levels, where the representation and completion rates amongst girls are low.

The trend in increasing women’s participation in decision mak­ing in all sectors shows a slight increase in the number of women representation in parliament from 14% in 1990 to 19% in 2008. This is however below the 2005 target of 30%. Zimbabwe has had a female Vice President since 2005 and a female Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Senate, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, and Judge President of the High Court between 2006 and 2010.

At other levels of decision-making, 67% of Public Service Commis­sioners are women, 29% are Supreme Court and High Court Judges, 41% Magistrates, 42% Administrative Court Judges. In the police force, 25% of deputy commissioners are women, 36% Senior As­sistant Commissioners and 17% Chief Superintendents. There is a need for greater qualitative and quantitative representation in decision-making positions in the public and private sectors

Major Challenges to achieving Goal 3

While it is likely that Zimbabwe reach gender parity in both sec­ondary and primary education, big challenges remain in terms of completion rates, particularly for the girl child.

Although there are at least 17 pieces of legislation in place that enhance the status of women, the lack of specific legislative pro­visions on quotas is a barrier to the increased representation of women in elective positions. The Constitution and electoral laws of the country are silent on quotas to advance the representation of women in elective public positions. In addition, there are gaps between government and political parties’ policies and practice. Moreover, the constituency-based electoral system is viewed as highly competitive and does not easily allow for holding of seats in parliament by women. Politics is an expensive business and women in Zimbabwe seldom have access to resources to fund their election campaigns.

The absence of clear affirmative action provisions in the Constitu­tion is also a problem, as is the lack in adherence to those affirma­tive action policies that actually are in place. While there is some significant increase in the representation of women in public sec­tor decision making, this still falls below the 50% gender parity.

Zimbabwe has a good track record in ratifying key international and regional instruments. The 2008 SADC Gender and Develop­ment Protocol that advocates for, inter alia, 50:50 gender parity in decision-making positions at all levels of development, and which Zimbabwe’s Parliament ratified in 2009, requires domestication through constitutional reforms. However, the National Gender Policy (NGP), and related policies and legislation all fall short on enforcement

Requirements for Achieving Goal 3

  1. Scaling-up support to secondary and tertiary educa- tion, with targeted interventions for the girl child through scholarships and other social safety nets.
  2. Incorporating provisions for gender equality and empowerment of women in the Constitution, focusing on quotas for women in elective positions or appointed bodies.
  3. Electoral reform, for example, introducing a combination of quotas, proportional representation, and first-past-the post systems to pave way for increased representation of women in decision-making positions.
  4. Finding innovative ways to increase resources for women to campaign in elections.
  5. Supporting initiatives under government’s national healing and reconciliation programme to build social cohesion to reduce polarisation and thereby create an enabling environment for women to freely participate in politics.

1.18 years
remaining
until 2015

1990 2015
Targets for MDG3
  1. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
    • Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
    • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
    • Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament