With the Zimbabwe presidential elections fast approaching , voter and civic education are necessary to ensure that both men and women understand their rights, their political system, the contests they are being asked to decide, how and where to vote.
For an election to be successful and democratic, voters must understand their rights and responsibilities, and must be sufficiently knowledgeable and well informed to cast ballots that are legally valid and to participate meaningfully in the voting process. Voter and civic education are even more critical in post-conflict countries, where political situations may be volatile and where elections may have an unprecedented impact on the countries’ future.·
In a country where men continue to dominate the political spectrum, the development of gender-sensitive voter and civic information and ensuring that all women have access to voter education is a mandate.
One such act could include the designing of training programmes on women’s participation that are targeted at men and to monitor the Government’s voter and civic education programmes to ensure that they are accessible to women and are gender-sensitive.
Thomas Mhako, a political analyst from the University of Zimbabwe said it is crucial to develop and disseminate comprehensive programmes of voter and civic education, starting well before each election and continuing throughout the election process whilst ensuring that the material used is accurate and politically neutral.
“For women to make a mark in the political sphere successfully. There is need to provide sufficient resources to ensure such programmes reach all citizens, especially women and Initiate special voter and civic education programmes for target groups, including women, minorities, displaced persons, youth and others who may be less likely to vote, as well as programmes on women’s participation aimed at men”, he said.
“It even starts from basic things such as reviewing all materials to ensure they are gender-sensitive and developing gender-sensitization programmes for personnel responsible for civic and voter education. We therefore need to develop and support voter and civic education training opportunities for women”.
Voter and civic education can be critical in enhancing women’s participation in elections, especially in Zimbabwe where elections have been scarred by conflict which ultimately has led women to not traditionally play an active role in the electoral process.
It should therefore be accessible to women as well as to men. The information conveyed should be gender-sensitive and designed to be relevant to women. Civic education can help enhance women’s participation in elections particularly through the dissemination of positive images of women as voters, leaders, and participants in all aspects of the political process.
Recent political studies have shown that women represented by a woman are more interested and become more involved in politics and feel more skilled and effective than those represented by men.
However, the marginalization of women by structural deformities in our cultural, social, religious and political stereotypes has somewhat caused a decline in women political participation.
In Zimbabwe under the “new dispensation”, patriarchy, intertwined with the increase in militarized masculinities, is believed to have produced an exclusion with limited spaces for women as evidenced by a mere 15% of female contestants in the 26 March by-elections, a development that signals a steady decrease in women political participation as a result of entrenched stereotypes.
On a positive note, as of 2015, women in every country in the world have the right to vote; the first nation to grant female suffrage was New Zealand in 1893, and the last country was Saudi Arabia in 2015. Today, several countries are led by females and some countries, such as Finland, also have a cabinet dominated by women. These achievements have been possible in large part thanks to gender equality measures.
Analysts have however argued that progress is slow and uneven. Women are still underrepresented in politics, parliaments and public life worldwide.
“Attitudes towards women candidates are still largely characterized by deeply ingrained stereotypes, and political opponents will often use those stereotypes to question women’s capabilities, a challenge women face time and again in politics”, said Millicent Marume, a political science student at the University of Zimbabwe.
“Although women are putting themselves forward for elections more and more, their numbers are still far behind those of men mainly because they
continue to be sidelined in decision-making processes and the stigma against them in politics is still alive and well. They continue to face structural, socioeconomic, institutional and cultural barriers”, she said.
Tackling those barriers takes effort on the part of every element of society whether it is government, civil society, the media, academia, the private sector and even men.
As the saying goes, ‘Behind every successful man there is a woman’. This statement resonates well with the much loved Jah Prayzah who over the years has grown as a musician locally and otherwise. His wife, Rufaro Chiworeso has been quietly cheering him on and her humble demeanor has gained her many fans.
Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about Mrs Mukombe..
1.November is her birthday month. Although her actual age is not known, November the 3rd is the day she was born. Every year Jah Prayzah takes to social media to celebrate his wife’s birthday with a few cute pictures
2. She has stuck with JP through the good and the bad. Before the superstar was sharing the stage with big names like Diamond Platinum, Davido or Jah Cure, he was hustling to make a name for himself in the music industry like everyone else. According to JP, during those hard times Rufaro was there for him and they wavered the storm together which he says he greatly appreciates
3. Rufaro is actually Jah Prayzah’s second wife. She got married to the singer after his union with his first wife soured.
4. She is a mother to 5 children.. 4 of which are biologically hers and Mukudzei Jnr, Jah Prayzah’s first child from his previous marriage. Of the 4, 3 are beautiful girls and a son the couple welcomed in 2020.
5. In 2015, Rufaro had to shrug off romantic connections between her husband and Henrietta Rushwaya following the surfacing of bedroom pictures of the two. Over the years Wagwizi has been accused of becoming too close to other women, including his dancers. It seems the Mrs has become a pro at handling her husband’s infidelity allegations behind closed doors.