“Counting the Gains” is a condensed profile of the work of Zimbabwean women members of parliament, a collection celebrating female leaders traditionally marginalised in politics and by the media. This photo book was conceived, not just to showcase the contribution of women political representatives at a national level but also, to demonstrate that the fight for gender equality is truly on course. It records for posterity a wide range of issues tackled by legislators under the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus (ZWPC) during the five-year (2013-2018) tenure of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe. “Counting the Gains” highlights the successes, the challenges and the global aspirations of Zimbabwean women – from local grassroots development projects to the formulation of international laws to promote social justice and a fair world. Beyond seeing the book as “medium” to broadcast voices
Zimbabwe has an enviable record in Africa for the quality of its educated population. The enormous investment in education from the beginning of Independence in 1980, has drawn favourable comment in Africa and around the world. It is thus deeply disturbing that schools have become sites of repression and teachers targets for repression. Children have been forced to attend political rallies, schools have become places where partisan political meetings political meetings take place, and teachers have become the targets of intimidation and violence.
This is no new phenomenon. Teachers were targets for political violence during the Liberation War, and have been targets in most elections since 2000, with 2008 perhaps the worst to date. The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (Human Rights Forum) documented 283 cases of human rights violations against teachers in the period from January 2001 to June 2002. In 2008, 50% of teachers in a national sample of 1034 teachers reported an incident of organised violence, with half of these reporting that this happened at school in front of children
Elections in Zimbabwe have always been bitterly contested affairs since 2000, and women have not been immune from all the problems that emerge during elections. There has been an endless cycle of women victimization when it comes to voting or being elected for political office or within political parties. Many people assumed and hoped that the 2018 elections would bring different and positive results, but the run up to elections became increasingly acrimonious, and the allegations of intimidation and hate speech, particularly towards women, began to increase the closer the country got to the poll.
Predominate amongst the reasons why women do not participate in politics is the perception that participating in politics is dangerous. Although women believe that they should participate in politics, many are fearful of doing so, and with good justification. In the aftermath of the excessively violent 2008 elections, 52% of the 2158 women stated that they had been victims of violence while 14% had been physically injured.2 An overview of violence against women during elections showed that women were increasingly becoming victims during elections: the study showed an increase of women experiencing violence during elections, from 0.1% in 1980 to 20% in 2002, and then a sudden increase to 62% in 2008.3
Afrobarometer surveys on Zimbabwe frequently run into criticism about both the methodology and the findings. This was the case with the public release of the Round 7 (2017) survey results. A particular bone of contention was what to make of apparently contradictory findings. For example, participants were confused by the findings that a majority of Zimbabweans both trust and fear the President, Robert Mugabe. This confusion was driven apparently by a failure to appreciate the limitations of quantitative research. The methodological confusion was answered by the Afrobarometer itself (Howard & Logan. 2017), but another issue emerged from the criticism. This was more interesting, and we hypothesized that this might derive from the actual knowledge base of the critics. It raised the question about whether the critics were as informed about the views and opinions of the Zimbabwean polity as they claimed. It led us to speculate that the critics were an “elite”, and, as such, more detached from the reality of public opinion than they knew. There was some basis for this hypothesis derived from an earlier study that suggested the middle class was composed of “disconnected democrats” (RAU. 2015).
This is a preliminary report on a research project between the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), the Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD) and HIVOS. The aim behind the study was to examine young women’s reasons for participating or not in the 2018 elections in the context of a pre- and post, matched-sample design. The decision was made to use IYWD as a case study, using its members. This would allow not only an understanding of participation in elections, but also provide IYWD and HIVOS with a deeper understanding of the success that IYWD has had in motivating and mobilising its members.
This builds on previous research by RAU in the 2013 elections when it carried out a pre-post-election study with The Women’s Trust (TWT).1 This research showed that going women-to-women was highly successful in motivating women to register and vote in the 2013 elections, producing an increase in the number of women that stated that they had voted in 2013 elections (79%) as opposed to the 2013 Referendum (11%) and the 2008 first round (27%). It was also found that participating in the TWT workshop was for the majority (60%) an important reason for participating, belying the view that workshops do not have much effects, and, additionally, that “word of mouth” was also seen as important for a significant group (43%).
In 2009, the Research and Advocacy Unit in collaboration with the progressive Teachers‘ Union of Zimbabwe carried out a study to document the experiences of violence that teachers experienced in Zimbabwe especially around 2000 and beyond. The study was aimed at highlighting the extent and impact of violations on the education sector and how schools had become to resemble ―war zones‖ especially around elections to the detriment of the entire education sector. The study was also aimed highlighting the plight of the Educators vis-a-viz political activities and push for a policy declaring schools as zones of safety.Schools, schooling and teachers are a fundamental part of a nation‘s fabric, having critically important roles in developing the workforce and social capital of the future. Multiple studies demonstrate the crucial role that education plays in development. All societies desiring to develop economically, and have a strong, stable citizenry, place high priority on education. Zimbabwe is no different and has received endless praise for the investment by government in education. However, like health, education needs the constant support of the government and the citizenry in order to continue to provide the skilled workers and committed citizens of the future. For this reason, it is always critical to protect education from attack