The illusion of inclusion in development: Zimbabwean women in politics post July 2018 elections
Sandra Bhatasara (University of Zimbabwe)
Paper short abstract:
This paper argues that the current situation of Zimbabwean women in politics is not only complex but also tragic. Patriarchy, entangled with neoliberalism, coupled with the increase of securocrats in state institutions are deliberately making the impact of women trivial.
Paper long abstract:
In terms of gender, the July 2018 election provided a record number of female candidates in the presidential race at the same time attracting young women's participation. Post July 2018 elections, it is purported that Zimbabwe hailed a 'new dispensation' in terms of socio-economic and political governance. However, what is currently lacking is a nuanced analysis of what is happening to women who made it into politics. Although some women occupy 'important' positions, there is a danger of assuming that the mere presence of women in these spaces translates into their active contributions and ultimately development. Based on a comprehensive field work with women, this paper argues that the current situation of Zimbabwean women in politics is not only complex but also tragic. Their situation can be read from multiple analytical lenses including Adverse Co-optation into masculine and militarised political spaces that render their impact insignificant. Among other factors, the ongoing political and economic crises have created a fertile ground for the general hardening of toxic patriarchy, cultural fundamentalists and moral guardians bent on containing women's political roles beyond those that resonate with their feminine ones. Importantly, the intersectionality of local patriarchal interests and international capital in the so called 'new economic order' is also a tragedy for women. The Zimbabwean case clearly shows that patriarchy, entangled with authoritarian neoliberalism, coupled with the increase of securocrats in state institutions are deliberately making the impact of women trivial, lest they contaminate the natural order of a masculine model of 'development'.
- Inclusive development?