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Research Group Says Violence Curbs Women's Political Zeal

The Research and Advocacy Unit says women in Zimbabwe maybe marginalized in many aspects of public and political life, but are influential through their voting.

In a new research study report entitled 'Women and Elections in Zimbabwe: Insights from the Afrobarometer', the Research and Advocacy Unit explains that women see participation in politics as important but are hampered in most cases by political violence.

The study revealed that 68% of women in 2008 reported feeling “unsafe” or “extremely unsafe” during elections, up from 22% in 2000 and 5% in the previous year.

The unit said some women, mainly those in rural areas, support traditional leaders and Zanu-PF due to fear of violence, while urban women generally do not support traditional leadership, and vote when consequences are not problematic.

“Relatively little political violence was reported between 1980 and 2000 by women surveyed, although it is not the case that there was no political violence at other times,” RAU report noted.

“But the big change came in 2000, and subsequently the very high rates of political violence associated with the 2000 parliamentary election, the 2002 presidential election, and the notorious 2008 presidential re-run election. A startling 62% of women surveyed claim that they experienced political violence in 2008.”

RAU adds that it generally found that Zimbabwean women supported the notion of democracy, but reject a one-party state or government and strongly rejected dictatorship.