Zimbabwe: World YWCA stands in solidarity with Zimbabwean women

World YWCA
"The economic situation has probably hit women hardest, " says a YWCA of Zimbabwe spokesperson.
Zimbabwe has elected 28 women into its lower house of assembly in their March 29 general elections. The World YWCA stands in solidarity with Zimbabwean women as the nation anxiously await result of the presidential election.
The World YWCA congratulates the women for successfully wining their campaign amidst a difficult political climate characterised by intimidation and lack of security. Many female candidates successfully navigated the sensitive political climate despite limited access to campaign resources.

Zimbabwe is facing an economic crisis with inflation spiralling out of control, currently topping 100,000%. "The economic situation has probably hit women hardest, " says a YWCA of Zimbabwe spokesperson, "There is much work to be done to improve the status of women in every spheres but especially economically, before the 50-50 [gender balance in parliament] is achieved."

Yet women in Zimbabwe are increasingly entering the political arena — this election saw a 49% increase in women candidates since the last election in 2002. A total of 919 women contested for seats in what is proving to be a landmark election. The YWCA of Zimbabwe participated in the 'Women Can Do It' national campaign that mobilised women to actively participate in the election process by supporting women candidates, reporting on abuses and violations targeted to women candidates and educating women to vote responsibly.

Through the Zimbabwe Council of Churches civil education initiative the YWCA of Zimbabwe trained nearly 100 women to observe the elections. "The observers were respected and managed to carry out their roles, " says the YWCA of Zimbabwe spokesperson. Election results reveal that the ruling Zanu-PF party has lost its majority in parliament to the opposition for the first time since independence in 1980.

Tensions are rising in Zimbabwe as official announcement of the presidential vote is delayed. President Robert Mugabe ran to continue his 28-year term in office contested by Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and former Finance Minister Simba Makoni who is supported by a smaller faction of the MDC.

"As the world keenly follows the situation in Zimbabwe, we call on the YWCA movement and our partners to affirm the important role women play in the prevention and resolution of conflict as stated in the Africa Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, CEDAW and United Nations Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security," says Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary, "Zimbabwean women must continue to effectively contribute to the critical decisions that define the future and recovery of their nation."

7 April 2008