Underepresentation of Women in Positons of Authority.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 2. 1 Introduction The focus of this chapter is to review critically and synthesize relevant knowledge about how and when specific levels of instruments and/ or policy interventions work to empower women and thereby increase gender equality, as stated by the World Bank (2001). Decision-making procedures should be changed to make room for female influences, styles and characteristics as well as in implementation. Participation of women in decision-making processes should the corner stone of Zimbabwe’s ethos as a democratic nation. Zimbabwe should take an active role in promoting gender balance in decision-making.
It is important to have balanced participation of women and men at all levels of decision making. Gender equality is central to human development and to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as to the enhancement of development effectiveness, (UNDP, 2011). MDGs attach great importance to gender equality and women’s empowerment in all facets of life. Gender mainstreaming is one of the strategies that the UN utilises to promote the integration of gender perspectives into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes (UNDP, 2011).
Gender equity is giving boys and girls, women and men equal opportunities in the utilisation of personal capabilities to realize full human rights (UNDP, 2011). There are many studies that have been done by scholars across the world to find association between women empowerment and socio- economic performance. There is empirical evidence that the promotion of gender equity leads to better economic performance of the concerned societies.

One such study was done by Stephan Klasen who said that gender gaps undermined “the ability of women to be effective agents of economic process. Societies with greater female employment opportunities are less prone to corruption and poor governance”, (Klasen, 2006:151). 2. 2 Overview of global efforts on gender equality Despite efforts made to ensure that female representation is achieved at all levels of governance, women are still underrepresented in many government and non-government organizations, particularly in positions of power and leadership.
According to Campbell (2003:7-8), women’s current position is the result of the historical fact that Zimbabwe’s transition from white colonial rule did not dismantle the structures of patriarchy or oppression, which happen to serve the current regime just as well. 2. 3 Historical Background of Gender Equality According to a UN report of 1997, gender equality, also known as sex equality or sexual equality, is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.
This goal includes making women’s rights equal to men’s and also making men’s rights equal to women’s. 1972-1980s Although the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972 saw the establishment of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), officially linked the physical environment and society in its title, in the 1960s and 1970s social issues were still largely disconnected from environmental policies and programs.
When the World Conservation Strategy living resource conservation for sustainable development the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was launched in 1980, the focus of that document on social-environmental linkages still was presented in a gender-neutral way. 1985
The Third United Nations Women’s Conference in Nairobi in 1985, however, was among the first international forum that made explicit the linkages between sustainable development and women’s involvement and empowerment as well as gender equality and equity. In the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies, the environment was included as an area of concern for women. During the Nairobi conference in 1985, UNEP hosted a special Session on Women and the Environment, and UNEP’s Senior Women Advisors Group (SWAG) was established to advice the organization on bringing a gender perspective in its environmental program. 990s In the run-up to the World Summit of 2002, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development UNCED, held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, the UN Secretariat for UNCED, UNEP and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) as well as NGOs such as WEDO and World Wildlife Fund, undertook a number of advocacy activities that reflected the conclusions reached at the 1985 Nairobi Non-governmental Organization-Forum workshops, that stated: “The growth of women’s power and the sustainability of development are ecologically tied. Environmental Liaison Centre (ELC, 1985). They underlined that women not only bear the highest costs of environmental problems, but as managers of primary resources, also have the greatest potential for contributing to the solution of the crisis. The advocacy activities during the UNCED process resulted in a reasonably Agenda 21, not only including more than 145 references to the specific roles and positions of women in environment and sustainable development, but also a separate Chapter 24 entitled ‘Global action for women towards sustainable development’.
This chapter acknowledges the need for a broad participation of women as major group at all governmental levels and in all UN agencies related activities in sustainable development, as well as the need for the integration of a gender perspective on sustainable development planning and implementation. The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995) identified environment as one of twelve critical areas for women.
Section K of the Beijing Platform for Action, on women and the environment, asserted that “women have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns and approaches to natural resource management” (paragraph 246). 2000s Five years later, at the Millennium Summit in New York, world leaders promised in the Millennium Declaration “to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable”.
This vision was reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including MDG 1, eradicate extreme poverty, MDG 3 promote gender equality and empower women, and MDG 7 ensure environmental sustainability. However, until now, in governmental reporting on MDG 7 environmental linkages to gender equality are neglected. As input for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, women as major group prepared two documents (ECOSOC/UN, 2001 and 2002), in which progress on the implementation of Agenda 21 from a gender perspective was reviewed.
It was concluded that at international, national and local levels important steps had been taken, but that these were rather scattered and that most were of an ad hoc character. The review showed that there has been no real integration of gender issues into global environment and sustainable development policies and activities, let alone a thorough mainstreaming of gender concerns into these areas. Instead of real implementation, more commitments were made.
Principle 20 of the Johannesburg Declaration of the World Summit on sustainable Development (2002) reads: “We are committed to ensure that women’s empowerment and emancipation, and gender equality are integrated in all activities encompassed within Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. ” Among the 153 paragraphs of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) 30 refer to gender aspects.
These deal with: benefits of sustainable development to women; the elimination of violence and discrimination; access to health services; access to land and other resources (particularly in Africa); the enhancement of the role of women in resources management; education for all; participation of women; gender mainstreaming; and gender specific information and data. Major advocacy efforts resulted in a decision by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its 11th session in 2003 to make gender a cross-cutting issue in all its upcoming work up until 2015.
In a global context in which gender inequality proves to be one of the most pervasive forms of inequality (UNDP, 2005), the international community during the 10-year Review of the Beijing Platform for Action, recommitted itself to the global goal of gender equality and the empowerment of women. One of the areas of disparity between males and females is related to the difference in their employment status which is manifested by occupational segregation, gender-based wage gaps, and women’s disproportionate representation in informal employment, unpaid work and higher unemployment rates (UNFPA, 2005).
As women in developing countries have low status in the community, the activities they perform tend to be valued less; and women’s low status is also perpetuated through the low value placed on their activities (March et al. , 1999). According to the millennium indicators data base of the United Nations, cited in the UNFPA (2005), the percentage of parliamentary seats held by women in 2005 was 16% at world level, 21% in developed countries, and 14% in developing countries.
This low representation of women in national parliaments could be due to type of electoral systems in different countries, women’s social and economic status, socio-cultural traditions and beliefs about women’s place in the family and society, and women’s double burden of work and family responsibilities (UNFPA, 2005). Beijing Platform for Action (1995) called on governments to take measures to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in, power structures and decision-making.
The outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000) reiterated the need to increase the representation of women. The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) affirmed the need to include women in decision-making with regard to issues of peace and security. In 2006 the 50th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women adopted the agreed-upon conclusions on the equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes, (UN/DAW, 2007).
Other important commitments related to women’s political participation in Africa include: Article 4 (l) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Dakar Platform for Action (1994); the African Plan of Action to Accelerate the Implementation of the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action for the Advancement of Women (1999); the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003); and the African Union’s Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (2004).
In Zimbabwe gender disparities characterise all aspects of development with Zimbabwe ranked at “130 in the global gender-related development index according to the (Human Development Report, 2007/2008), reflecting the generally low status of women with respect to access, control and ownership of economic resources and positions in decision-making processes”.
This is despite the promulgation of various laws, ratification and accession to regional and international declarations, conventions and protocols earmarked for creating an enabling environment for the accomplishment of justice and equality between men and women. The status of women in Zimbabwe has been noticeably affected by the economic problems facing the country as well as the persistence of discriminatory practices.
The country has introduced “policy and legal measures to promote gender equality including the National Gender Policy and specific domestic violence legislation”, (UN, 2010); but in Zimbabwe women trail behind men on measures of economic empowerment “such as labour force participation, wage equality and representation in senior positions”, (World Economic Forum, 2010:318). A key barrier to gender equality is the discrimination stemming from the “dual system of law, where customary laws continue to disadvantage women, particularly in the family”, (Thabethe, 2011:8).
Zimbabwe adopted “women in power” and “decision-making” as two of its priority areas under the Beijing Declaration (1995). The report by UNFPA (2010) notes that “the achievements made by Zimbabwe in terms of promoting gender equality at national level such as the appointment of the first female Vice-president in 2005, the drafting and launching of the National Gender Policy in 2004 and the enacting of progressive legislation such the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Discrimination Act were landmark decisions.
Labour laws have also been amended to reflect gender equality priorities. 2. 4 The Zimbabwe National Gender Policy (2004) According to the Republic of Zimbabwe, (2004), the vision of this policy is to have a “society in Zimbabwe where there is economic, political, religious and social equality and equity among women and men in all spheres of life and at all levels”. It was said that it anchored on the protection and respect of the rights of the individual.
The Zimbabwe government went further highlighting that “the policy’s goals is to eliminate all negative economic, social and political policies, cultural and religious practices that impede equality and equity of the sexes; to mainstream gender in all aspect of the development process and to ensure sustainable equity, equality and empowerment of women and men in Zimbabwe in all spheres of life”, (Republic of Zimbabwe, 2004).
In 1997, together with other SADC governments, Zimbabwe signed the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development together with its Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women and Children sets out to enhance equal participation of women and men in national development. Based on these national, regional and international instruments, the National Gender Policy will facilitate the designing and implementation of policies that redress gender imbalances in all spheres and levels of life as part of fulfilling its commitments.
The National Gender Policy recognises the fact that women constitute more than 52 per cent of the population of Zimbabwe. It is therefore important that their representation and participation in the development process should be commensurate with this numerical reality. 2. 4. 2 Policy principles The Zimbabwe government (2004) indicated that based on the “national ethos of democracy, unity, equity, development and self-sufficiency, sets out to enhance equal participation of women and men in national development”.
The policy was said to be in line with the need for economic growth, sustainable development, social justice and recognition and respect of human rights. However it is critical to recognise that gender discrimination has its basis in cultural values, beliefs and practices. In this regard, the National Gender Policy is premised on the following principles: • A recognition that issues of development, human development in particular are concerned with equity, equality, participation, association, social justice and human rights. Gender discrimination is a serious impediment to development that affects the whole country and thus needs to be eliminated through appropriate individual and collective strategies. • The prevalence and demonstration of political will and commitment to foster growth and enhance equity is a prerequisite to ensure the successful implementation of the National Gender Policy. • A participatory approach that entails broad consultation and involvement of both women and men in all spheres of development guarantees success of the transformation of society to promote democracy, equality and equity between women and men. All Government policies must acknowledge women and men as equal and important human resources for development. This equality and equity of women and men is anchored on the protection and respect of the rights of the individual. 2. 5 Women in Zimbabwe Women’s status in Zimbabwe has been significantly affected by the economic problems facing the country as well as the persistence of discriminatory practices. The country has introduced policy and legal measures to promote gender equality including National Gender Policy and specific domestic violence legislation, (UN, 2010).
Although Zimbabwe has achieved gender parity in primary school education, there remains a gender gap in secondary and tertiary education enrolments. Further, women trail behind men on measures of economic empowerment, such as “labour force participation, wage equality and representation in senior positions”, (World Economic Forum, 2010:318). A key barrier to gender equality is the discrimination stemming from the “dual system of law, where customary laws continue to disadvantage women, particularly in the family”, (Thabethe, 2011:8). . 6 Laws, Policies and Frameworks to Ensure Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls, (UN/ZIMBABWE, 2012). The frameworks will contribute to progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, specifically MDG 3: promote gender equality and empower women. To address this challenge, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCT) will support key governance institutions in policy and legislative formulation and implementation.
Support will, therefore, be rendered to Government to put in place laws and policies that increase the participation of women in decision-making bodies and positions in both the private and public sectors. Moreover, the UN will support measures to ensure that the percentage of the national budget allocated to women and girls’ programs is increased (UN/Zimbabwe, 2012). The UN will work towards ensuring ratification, domestication, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of laws and policies that promote gender equality, human rights, and women and girls empowerment.
Efforts will be made to mainstream gender into all Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) outcomes using a cross sectoral approach. An estimated amount of USD 20 million will be sourced from the UNCT and development partners for this outcome (UN/Zimbabwe, 2012). In Zimbabwe, gender disparities characterise all aspects of development, with Zimbabwe ranked at 130 in the global gender related development index according to the Human Development Report 2007/2008, reflecting the generally low status of women with respect to access, control and ownership of economic resources and positions in decision-making processes.
This is despite the promulgation of various laws and the signature, ratification and accession to several regional and international declarations, conventions and protocols aimed at creating an enabling environment for the attainment of equity and equality between men and women. 2. 7 Structures that enhances subordination of Women in Politics The traditional female/male roles are deeply ingrained and glorified in all Zimbabwean languages, in education, the mass media, and advertising.
The society’s perception of women is for the most part negative with the best women as mothers, and their capabilities and capacities going virtually unnoticed (Obura, 1991). Such sex stereotypes and social prejudices are inappropriate in the present society where female/male roles and male-headed families are no longer the norm. According to the United Nations (2000), sex stereo-types are among the most firmly entrenched obstacles to the elimination of discrimination, and are largely responsible for the denigration of the role and potential of women in society. The subordinate osition of women in the society seems to legitimize their exclusion from participation in political and decision making processes. Many stories depict women as disloyal, disagreeable, untrustworthy, and even gullible (Kabira and Nzioki, 1995:57). Even today women continue to be left out of official records and when recognised, they are addressed as those who need welfare assistance rather than actors in the historical process. The heavy under-representation of women in political life and most decision making processes in Zimbabwe needs to be closely investigated.
Karl (1995:185) explores some of the factors affecting women’s political participation worldwide. Among the factors she cites include: household status; work related rights (maternity leave, job security, provision of child-care); employment and remuneration; double burden of work; education and literacy; access to financial resources; legal rights; traditions, cultural attitudes and religion; socialization and self-reliance; violence against women; the mass media; health; ability to control fertility.
Cooper and Davidson (1982:44) sought to study the problems that women in leadership positions generally face. They found that women face stress from both the work, home and social environments. In addition, women have to acquire male leadership and managerial skills (for example, being aggressive, assertive, confident), as well as multiple demands in running a career and a family. Other sources of stress include difficult working relationships with male bosses and colleagues, sexual harassment, limited opportunities for promotion and career development.
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) (2003) notes that gender equity is the process of being fair to women and men. To ensure this fairness, measures must often be available to compensate for historical and political disadvantages that prevent women from otherwise operating on a levelled playing field with men. Equity leads to equality. Gender equality implies that women and men enjoy the same status.
Gender equality means that women and men have equal opportunities for realizing their full human rights and potential to contribute to political, economic, social and cultural development, and to benefit from results thereof. Gender equality includes both quantitative and qualitative aspects. 2. 8 Enhancing Women’s Participation in Political Power Structures and Decision-Making A survey carried out among national parliaments in the world by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (1997) revealed that women make up less than 5 per cent of world’s heads of state, heads of major corporations, and top positions in international organizations.
Five years down the line, the IPU has established that women are not just behind in political and managerial equity, they are a long way behind. Politics is everyone’s business and affects the lives of each of us. The more women are associated in numbers in political decision making process in governments, the more they can change the modalities and outcomes of policies. 2. 9 Discriminatory Family Code There is no legal discrimination against women and girls with respect to inheritance rights.
In 1997, the Administration of Estates Act was amended to make the surviving spouse and the children of a deceased person as his or her major beneficiaries, as opposed to their heir who was mainly the eldest son. The Act provides that the “matrimonial home, whatever the system of tenure under which it was held and wherever it may be situated, remains with the surviving spouse. This includes household goods and effects”, (United Nations, 1996:60). The Act applies to all marriages, civil and customary, (United Nations Committee, 2010:12).
Despite these laws, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions reports that “women are still denied their inheritance rights in practice due to discriminatory attitudes, women’s’ lack of awareness of their rights or women’s’ lack of resources to claim their rights”, (Bird et al, 2004:168). The Chronic Poverty Research Centre reports that only “37. 31 % of widows inherited majority of assets after their spouses in 2005/2006”, (Chronic Poverty Research Centre, 2011:20). Women’s position in the family can also be gleaned from their participation in household decision making.
Data from the 1999 Demographic Health Survey provides a snapshot of gender equality in household decision making in Zimbabwe. For large household purchases, 42% of married women reported that “decisions were made jointly with their husbands, 36% reported that decisions were made solely by their husbands and 16% reported decision were made solely by themselves”, (Demographic Health Survey Zimbabwe, 1999). Furthermore, discriminatory attitudes and practices of authorities place further barriers in women’s access to justice.
For instance, according to the US Department of State, authorities generally consider domestic violence to be a private matter, (United State Department, 2009). With respect to prosecutions of marital rape, the government reports that the prosecution of marital rape requires the consent of the Attorney General which may discourage women from reporting. Further, entrenched institutional and societal attitudes that deny marital rape as a form of violence against women also prevent women from seeking justice, (United Nations, 2010:13-14).
Female genital mutilation is not widespread in Zimbabwe, but is practised by the Remba ethnic group, which represents a small proportion of the population. Within this group, mutilation is combined with infibulations, which involves closing the outer lips of the vulva, (US Department of State 2002. Limitations on women’s reproductive rights also infringes upon women’s physical integrity in Zimbabwe. Abortion in Zimbabwe is permitted to save a woman’s life or health, in the event of rape or incest or due to foetal impairment. It is not permitted on request or on social or economic grounds, (United Nations Population Division, 2007).
The 2006 Demographic and Health Survey found that overall 60% of married women use contraception and 58 % use modern methods of contraception, (Demographic Health Survey, 2006). 2. 9. 1 Son Bias Gender disaggregated data on rates of infant mortality and early childhood nutrition are not available for Zimbabwe. With respect to access to education, the World Economic Forum reports that Zimbabwe has reached gender parity in primary school enrolments which indicates that there is no preferential treatment of sons with respect to primary school education.
However, a gender gap persists in secondary and tertiary education enrolments, suggesting that “the education of sons continues to be more highly valued than the education of daughters”, (World Economic Forum, 2010:318). Further, the government reported that “women and girls carry the primary burden of care in the context of HIV which suggests that daughter in Zimbabwe may experience greater time poverty compared to sons”, (United Nations 2010:48). Gender inequality is embedded in the patriarchal, social, religious and cultural stereotypes in Zimbabwean life.
UNFPA (2008) indicated that “the continued presence of long standing cultural and traditional practices that discriminate against women have constrained the progress of achieving gender equality”. Gender inequality hurts the interest not only of women but also of men through societal connections. It often stems from social structures that institutionalise conceptions of gender differences. Cultural stereotypes are ingrained in “both men and women and these stereotypes are possible explanation for gender inequality” (Rhoads et al, 1996:130).
McFadden (2004:42) proposes that women have been traditionally viewed as “being caring and nurturing and are designated to occupations which require such skills”. While these skills are culturally valued they were typically associated with domesticity so occupations requiring these same skills are not economically valued. Men have “traditionally been viewed as the breadwinners so jobs held by men have been historically economically valued” (McFadden, 2004:42).
However, these practices and public attitudes towards the advancement of women and gender equality have not changed at the same pace as policy and institutional frameworks. Mtintso (1999:37) observes and describes the under-representation and discrimination against women as an “anathema to democracy”. She argues that “socialisation of women right from childhood directs them away from activities of power. Women tend to be less ambitious and internalises society’s expectation that they are not suited to policy making positions”. (Mtintso, 1999:37).
Cooper et al (1994:92) supports Mtintso’s argument when he mentions that “it starts from the family level where the traditionally designated leader is a man”. The same principle is “still dominant in our society” (Cooper et al, 1994:92). Leary et al (1994:216) reiterates that “women have the will but are discriminated against by men in authority who refuse to promote them and by legislation which limit their opportunities”. Because of this ideology, very few women made it in politics. McFadden (1994”142) paints patriarchy as a “huge setback for women in Zimbabwe, as the society is patriarchal in nature”.
Morley (2005:112) alludes to the fact that “this societal norm leaves out women from the corridors of power and men are left to address issues that mostly affect women such as exploitation, marginalisation, powerlessness, and violence”. Watson (2009:87-93) affirms that “the under-representation of women remains a big concern in decision making processes and will continue to seriously undermine the realization of equitability in womanhood”. Mtintso (1999:40) argues that “patriarchal attitudes have become so entrenched that they are literally taken as natural”.
She further maintains that “the government decision bodies are so patriarchal and power is so obvious, women are in danger of being swallowed by its culture, ethos, values and priorities. ” This point was supported by Cooper et al (1994) when they argue that “women fear moving against the mainstream and in that way find themselves compromising and promoting the very patriarchal agenda”. According to Campbell (2003:285), the patriarchal model of the liberation struggle was “the basis upon which the African government was couched and had been entrenched into law”.
Cheater and Gaidzanwa (1996:197) postulate that “tradition was employed in the first decade of Zimbabwe’s independence to spread the general message of women’s re-subordination”. Black women were considered as “chattels of black men” (Zuidberg, McFaddens and Chigudu, 2004; 112). Culture prevents women from participating in decision-making processes and the distinction is critical to make in light of the gender differences rooted in the culture and history of Zimbabwe where women have been marginalised in decision-making positions.
Cooper et al (1994:100) argued that “cultural barriers seem to be difficult to remove since they are subtly enforced by both men and women, they are seen as immutable, but one should bear in mind that culture is dynamic, it needs programmes to advocate for popular participation of women in politics from high schools and influence the school curricula in this line”. Cheater and Gaidzanwa (1996:189-200) perceive traditional roles of men and women as “still in place due to gender stereotype”.
Women still find it challenging to stand and compete with men in the political arena. Cheater et al (1996:189-200) noted the idea of a woman “to stand to compete with men as unacceptable behaviour, an unheard of kind of a scenario”. 2. 10 Conclusion Given the above scenarios, there is need to scrutinize the conditions under which women are subjected to involvement, participation, and inclusion in key decision-making processes in Zimbabwe and specifically it’s Cabinet.
This is because, despite the significant advances made in the policy and legislative reforms arena, the position of women in decision-making positions in the Cabinet of Zimbabwe remains relatively low and is extraordinarily under-representative of women in the highest structures of governance. Gender equality has dominated international debate on development issues with many intervention mechanisms being invented but to no avail. This demonstrates a gap between policy formulation and the causes of the challenge they are intended to address. Herein lays the core of the problem i. e. the gap between policy and actual implementation.

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