Women losing out on boardroom appointments.

Author:Choruma, Allen

Although the constitutions of most African countries call for gender parity, women still face discrimination when it comes to company boardrooms. The issue is not confined to Africa but is global and reflects a cultural bias rather than being performance-related.

Women constitute 52% of the population In Zimbabwe and are estimated at 13.5m. Women constitute 51% of the rural population and 53% of the urban population according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT). But when it comes to gender diversity In leadership, men occupy far greater positions of power than women. Of concern is that this violates section 17 (1) (a) of the Zimbabwe Constitution, which provides that the State must promote full gender balance and in particular, full participation of women in all spheres of society on the basis of equality with men.

The government of Zimbabwe has shown commitment to achieving gender equality and women's empowerment by ratification of a number of gender-related international and regional protocols, which include the United Nations Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), the African Charter on the Rights of Women and the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Gender and Development (SADCPGD).

Despite all this commitment, Zimbabwe is far from achieving women's empowerment and gender equality in all spheres of society. A recent ZIMSTAT report, Understanding Gender Equality in Zimbabwe: Women and Men Report 2016, shows that a lot still needs to be done to ensure that Zimbabwe attains full gender equality in all spheres of life as enshrined in its constitution.

A 2015 study, published in the Global Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: 'Measuring Gender Differences on Boards of Directors of Companies Listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange', conducted by T. Njaya and Z. Chimbadzwa (Zimbabwe Open University), provides interesting statistics on gender diversity on the boards of 64 ZSE listed companies.

The survey concludes that "with all the attention the issue is obtaining, one would think that companies were doing better to promote gender equality in their boardrooms. The small number of women directors demonstrated that the various corporate leadership groups had not yet embraced [gender] diversity within their boards."

Some positive blips

There are however blips of positive news. Some women have made progress by getting onto...

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