International Women’s Day 2023: Women in Political Leadership

This International Women's Day, Dr Kuzi Zigomo explains her recent research on female representation in Zimbabwean politics.

Women’s representation in politics is a global challenge. Dr Kuziwakwashe (Kuzi) Zigomo‘s research addresses the question of why so few women are elected to positions of leadership, through documenting the experiences of 11 female candidates who ran in Zimbabwe’s last election. While Zimbabwe, along with several other countries, has introduced mechanisms to boost representation, Zigomo argues that such measures have treated women as a homogenous group while ignoring differences in age, marital status, and party affiliation that lead to discrimination.

Women may be called ‘too old’ to be candidates even if they are the same age as their male counterparts. Female candidates who represent opposition parties spoke of their vulnerability to sexual harassment and threats, and of dealing with false accusations that they owe their positions to relationships with influential men in their parties.

‘Virtue, Motherhood and Femininity: Women’s Political Legitimacy in Zimbabwe’ concludes that feminist scholarship on intersectionality, which originated in the U.S. and has tended to focus on the intersection of race, class and gender, needs to go further to consider other factors such as age, marital status and party identification particularly when considering the experiences of women of colour in the global South.

Read Dr Kuzi’s research here.