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Woman takes up the challenge for presidential candidacy in Zanzibar

Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (Harare), 22 June 2000

Harare - A woman in Zanzibar has taken up the challenge to race for presidency in the upcoming elections scheduled for October 2000. Amina Salum Ali, the Zanzibar minister for finance, made an indication of her plans to stand for presidency and is expected to fight it out with the communication and transport minister and union minister of finance among others.

Amina will be the very first woman to contest for this public post in the history of Zanzibar. Only a few months ago, the Union President Benjamin Mkapa challenged women in the country to come up and stand for higher posts in the forthcoming elections. The initiative taken by Amina is a positive lesson to women not only in Tanzania, but in the whole SADC region, to begin to acknowledge their potential and capability. With such an attitude and spirit, a woman president in the SADC region may soon be reality rather than a dream.


SADC legislatures are models in gender equity

In terms of the proportion of women in parliament, the region tops the global figures. This was revealed by the SADC Gender Unit at a conference in Gaborone. The SADC average was 17.9 percent, 4.5 percentage points higher than the global average of 13.4 percent. This is mainly attributed to shining examples from some SADC countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Seychelles, which happen to be among the top 10 countries in the world with regard to women's representation in parliament.

The Gender Unit noted that the countries with the highest levels of women's representation have a Proportional Representation (PR) electoral system in which the ruling parties have quotas for women.

However, the Gender Unit noted that there is no direct correlation between the level of women's development and the degree of women's representation in leadership. For instance, statistics available indicate that SADC countries with higher levels of income, Mauritius and Swaziland for instance, women's political empowerment lags behind.

Colleen Morna-Lowe of the Gender Unit, who made the presentation, said that campaigns alone will not help women in achieving political parity with men and therefore there is need for social engineering.