Women In Politics

Opinion : Demonising of female politicians limiting women's participation

The few women who have braved to tackle the political terrain in the country have a double job to perform as the challenges of being a politician come paired with the ‘condition’ of being female.
Female politicians world over have encountered a lot of hurdles in breaking the glass ceiling of gender and convince society to see beyond their dresses and judge them for what they bring to the table.
Female politicians have been attached so many labels from prostitutes to opportunists among many other derogatory names , and this has caused many women to shy away from governance issues in fear of having their lives dragged into public mockery.
Former Vice President of Zimbabwe, Cde Joice Mujuru who is the first female politician to ascend to a top position of power in the ruling party, came tumbling down after failing to please her paymaster, all her former glory of downing a helicopter was immediately withdrawn and replaced with a barrage of attacks. While this was politics at play one cannot but notice the nature of attacks against her where she was immediately stripped of her dignity and reduced to a mere war playgirl.
Mujuru was later nicknamed queen bee following revelations that she had disbanded with former male colleagues in her party over sexual innuendos, whether this was true or not, the accused male counterparts were spared the shame and she became the brunt of the joke and was accused of being a bed hopper, such common accusations and peddling of unverified information aimed at damaging another’s character has limited the participation of women in politics.
The ouster of former First Lady Grace Mugabe was met with much glee and due to her unbridled character and unpopular stances; it was very easy to unleash a character assassination with no holds barred. Her political ambitions which saw her enter the political scene three years ago seem to have turned all the misfiring of her husband’s three decade rule on her. All of a sudden all his mistakes became her doing and his fall became largely because she was a bad wife despite the fact that as a political leader and a grown man in his own right it was upon him to choose wise counsel.
Women who face sexual harassment become the guilty and in the political field without strong backing female politicians will find it hard to go it alone.
It seems in Zimbabwe once a female politician falls from grace or find themselves in the political limelight it is an accepted norm for their lives to be put under a microscopic eye from your dressing to your relationship status, something that male politicians are exempted from.
Mujuru and Mugabe have both been labelled as prostitutes and in the case of the latter this accusation was flung about carelessly with no regard to whether it was factual or not.
As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 16 days against gender based violence , physical and domestic violence seem to take centre stage as the most prevalent forms of abuse , however the most trivialised verbal and psychological abuse have far reaching effects.
Fear of political violence is one major limitation to women’s participation in governance issue, and with the demonising of the few who brave the odds being added to the equation the numbers will surely dwindle.
Female politicians in Zimbabwe continue to face a lot of harassment and ridicule and this affects their growth in the political scene, as mothers , sisters and wives , women have a lot to lose if their images are tarnished such that only a will resist the temptation of shying away from unwarranted abuse by the same people they wish to represent.
The few that have fought their p way to the top deserve to be criticised for their poor political moves and never for their gender.

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