On the 17th of January 2016, Women for Women Solidarity Zimbabwe (w4w) rolled out its first activity which was in the form of a consultative platform for young women to formulate a pro women agenda in anticipation of the 2018 election.
#SheVotes2018 campaign is a non partisan that is independently coordinated by Women for Women Solidarity Zimbabwe (w4w). A brain child of some dynamic young women who came together and saw it fit to serve their generation. Including, the National Coordinator of Women for Women Solidarity Zimbabwe , Maureen Kademaunga.
The event drew about 100 women from a diverse walk of life. Namely, young women from different prominent political parties, civic society, churches and business. These women came together to discuss the challenges that deter young women from actively participating in electoral processes.
So many challenges were brought up in the discussion which was graced by guest of honour Sally Dura from Sally’s Institute for Women. Sally reiterated that nothing for the woman without the women and that as women are 52% of the population demographic in Zimbabwe should use this to swing things in their favor as politics is a game of numbers.
Some bemoaned lack of access to public information on voter processes ie there is little voter education taking place. Fortunately, the meeting had a representative from the Electoral Reforms Commission (ERC) who adequately broke down into laymen’s terms the implications of the Biometric Registration process of voting that Zimbabwe shall embark on in a few moths time. Others spoke of the dragging of feet by the relevant authorities when it came to the implementation of electoral reforms. In addition, young women raised the possibility of electoral violence as their greatest hurdle especially for those with ambitions to run for political office in their come 2018.
Of importance was a concern they raised which against their male counterparts left them powerless. This is the lack of resources and support that they need to overcome if they are to actively and meaningfully participate in the 2018 election. They observed that in their wards their competition were men who easily provided stands,beer and other vote buying items to incumbents of that particular ward. They said as women the picture that would be derived by you doing the same and being found in a beer-hall trying to appease the electorate had far reaching implications. Plus most women depend on their husbands for sustenance thus they have limited or no resources to spare outside their families.
It was a resounding consensus during the discussions that with no significant representation of young women in the halls of power ie in decision making structures such as Parliament and Local Government, issues peculiar to young women would always be sidelined or neglected.
The forum declared 2018 as the year that young women take charge and made history by exercising their right to participate either as candidates or as informed voters. This time women are taking seriously their responsibility to lead and indeed are eager to stand counted. By doing so they will ensure that structural , economic and political marginalization of young women in the electoral process is eradicated.
Thus, a support system like #SheVotes2018 Campaign will be working to mobilize young female voters and supporting young female candidates in the 2018 election. A similar meeting is scheduled to take place in Bulawayo next week as the campaign is being shall be visiting all the provinces on a similar process to reach out to young women.