Disinformation hindering women participation in politics


The introduction of social media has seen many women backtracking in participating in politics and governance due to digital abuse and disinformation.

Speaking during a Gender and Media Connect training forum held at Masvingo Commercial Center on Friday, Zanu PF Youth League national deputy secretary for science and technology, Auxcilia Dhanzi said politics is not for the faint hearted.

Dhanzi is MP for Masvingo under proportional representation.

“Politics is not for the weak, we need to support each other as women, it is now common that with social media it’s easier to misinform the public, and even to damage someone’s reputation

“Most gender based disinformation on social media originate from our male counterparts, but they use women to circulate it and de-campaign each other.

“Some of us have been accused of getting posts through sex but as for me I kept my cool and remained focused. I refused to be distracted by social media and blatant lies that were being circulated by haters until I became an MP,” said the firebrand politician since childhood.

Women participation in politics is decreasing despite the efforts made by government to increase their involvement through quota systems and 2013 Constitutional changes.

The purpose of the quota is to push the country towards gender parity.

“We are grateful that his Excellence President Emmerson Mnangagwa is also making efforts to increase women participation in politics and we are hoping that these efforts will also motivate other women to participate in politics” added Dhanzi.

Election Resource Center revealed that, Masvingo Province had the highest female registered voters in Zimbabwe, with 57.2% registered female voters compared to 42.8% males.

This shows that women have the potential to influence politics, unfortunately that is not the case on the ground as very few occupy positions of influence.

Women representation in Zimbabwe has declined since 2013. In 2023, 23 women were elected into parliament against 26 in 2013 and 25 in 2018. The declining number of female candidates is an indication that political power structures have remained patriachial.

Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCOZ) Masvingo Chapter coordinator, Blessing Chimombo said that they have found out that although women participate in the political process, they are not willing to take up leadership positions.

“We have realized that it is women that participate during these political processes like voting in primary elections, but they are not keen to take political positions, women are seen in public during campaigning time but when it comes to taking up positions they are not visible.

“There is also a pull her down syndrome that hinders women participation as women use negative past to de-campaign one another, also patriarchal issues have been cited as another factor that hindered women participation in the past election.

“Trends have shown that with the coming of social media in the past couple of years women participation has been on the decrease, in 2013, 2018, 2023” said Chimombo.

“We urge the Government to put in place a law that outlaws disinformation and a penalty for the crime as this is now rampant yet it is causing a lot of damage to aspiring women politicians,” one participant at the GMC forum.

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