'Parly can be tough for women'

HARARE  - Parliament can be a discouraging place for women, who risk being disempowered if they are ill-prepared, long-serving politician Olivia Muchena has said.

Muchena a Senator, was speaking at a meeting of women politicians called by Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu) last week.

“Parliament can be a discouraging place, a woman can be disempowered by the heckling and distraction from serious business,” she said.

“Let’s empower ourselves with simple things such as reading. When the president delivers his opening speech, you should grab it and read it because that will guide the writing of your maiden speech.”

MP Lucia Matibenga, the outgoing Labour and Social Welfare minister, said women needed support and should know what it entails to embark on a political journey.

“You need to manage your time and not to keep everyone waiting at meetings,” Matinenga said.

“You are going to meet different people in politics and it is better that you are prepared to deal with them. You should know when and how to speak.”

Women politicians who have just gained access to the National Assembly, Senate and council gathered in Harare last week to celebrate their participation.

Wipsu acting director Prisca Mudondo said, “While we have a lot of issues to talk about as set-backs on our vision for 50/50 by 2015, we are happy to celebrate the increase in the percentage of women who are in politics starting from the number which stood as candidates up to the winning of the seats in the two houses and councils. The attaining of 34 percent representation in the parliamentary and senatorial seats was but a result of courage and commitment. As such we say to all the candidates, congratulations.”

Wipsu applauded all the women who supported and voted for female candidates.

“One of the strategic moves is taking advantage of our own sisters in strategic positions so that they share with us their knowledge on the things we must know”, Mudondo said.

“The idea is to share some ideas for the benefit of all those who aspire to be politicians in the future in order for them to be better positioned candidates.”

Netsayi Mushonga, the national coordinator of Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe said: “At Beijing Conference, women agreed that when they make a third within any body they have the power to spell the agenda.
“We have 32 percent women in the National Assembly and 35 percent women in Senate it means we are then able to make a difference within those houses, there is nothing stopping them to shape the agenda for Zimbabwe and that is a huge achievement.” 


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