Cyber bullying discouraging women participation in politics – ministry official

MUREHWA – A senior civil servant has lamented continued cyberbullying and name calling often directed at women who stand up to contest for political office in the country’s elections.

Lilian Matsika Takaendisa, the Chief Director, Gender Policy Planning and Programme Management in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was speaking at a provincial International Women’s Day commemorative event in Murehwa, Mashonaland East recently.

She said cyberbullying often discouraged aspiring female office holders from taking up the challenge.

“Women are mocked on social media especially during this election period,” she said.

“If a woman expresses interest to stand for political office, they are mocked about their looks; labelled a prostitute and we see this happening especially against women.

“We see a lot of abuse happening even against young girls; their lives are messed up on social media.

“As we commemorate this day, we want to fight against online gender-based violence that is inflicted mostly against women and girls.”

She said the low numbers of women parliamentarians has resulted in issues affecting women themselves being side-lined.

“I call upon women to participate in the upcoming elections. Women are 52 percent of the population of Zimbabwe. Should we continue to vote for men?” Takaendisa said.

“We want women who will stand as councillors, MPS and Senators.

“Our issues are not being tabled in parliament because it’s dominated by men.

“When you are not there, do not expect your gender issues to be brought by men into parliament.

“We want to see women. It’s your right to occupy those spaces.”

Speaking at the same event, European Union ambassador Jobst von Kirchmann also lamented the high levels of gender-based violence and child marriages in Mashonaland East province.

“Mashonaland East province had the highest number of male inmates convicted for gender-based violence according to a 2021 report by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.

“This province also had the third highest cases of child marriages in 2021, according to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission.

“But at the same time, Murehwa is also a place where there is a strong commitment of some of my fellow male counterparts to fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” he said.

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