Commission mulls court action over gender parity

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission yesterday said it was mulling court action against public entities and institutions failing to observe the need for gender parity in appointment of senior executives, as required by the Constitution.

Commission chairperson, Mrs Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, said they had written several letters to Government ministries and departments reminding them of their constitutional obligation, but they had failed to take heed of the call.

She said Government ministries were failing to appoint women despite the fact that they submitted a consolidated database of women with different skills.

Mrs Sangarwe said this yesterday while giving oral evidence before Parliament’s portfolio committee on Women, Gender and Small to Medium Enterprises chaired by Mutasa North MP Cde Chido Madiwa (Zanu-PF).

“I appeal to you as Parliament to call these Ministers to ask them why they were not appointing women in terms of the Constitution,” she said.

“We are ready as a Commission to go to the Constitutional Court to challenge these appointments. We wonder why they continue to do this when the Constitution is clear.”

Mrs Sangarwe said the Commission conducted a baseline survey on the gender composition of staff in Government institutions where it was noted that 68 percent of senior management in all Government ministries were men, while women constituted 32 percent.

The survey also showed that in parastatals, 79 percent of chief executives were men, while women constituted 21 percent.

She said several advisory notes and meetings were held with several ministries on the need to observe the constitutional requirement, but failed to yield results.

“Regrettably, despite these diplomatic engagements, no measures have been taken by ministries to use emerging opportunities to ensure the closing of gender gaps in representation on boards of State enterprises and parastatals,” said Mrs Sangarwe.

“The Zimbabwe Gender Commission is deeply concerned by the continued disregard to the constitutional dictates in board and other appointments.

“It should be noted that non-appointment of women does not mean that there are no qualified women. The Zimbabwe Gender Commission has created an online database of women professionals and executives who can be considered when appointing boards and senior executives.”

Mrs Sangarwe said the Commission had written several letters to concerned ministries reminding them on their obligations in terms of the Constitution.

“As a follow-up to the baseline survey, on June 13, 2019, the Commission wrote to all ministers requesting for an update on the gender composition at senior management level and for every parastatal and boards under their respective mandates,” she said.

“In the same correspondence, the Commission also requested ministries to put in place a plan to fulfil the constitutional requirements of 50/50 and share with the Commission by June 30, 2019.”

Legislators told the Commission that they ought to be proactive by lobbying for women appointment before it had been done rather than to mourn when the relevant authorities would have appointed some people.

They were also implored to engage women civic organisations to help in lobbying for the appointment of women in decision making positions.

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