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Key findings
  • Educational achievement is gender-equal in Zimbabwe, according to survey results.
  • Women are less likely than men to have a bank account (38% vs. 49%) but match or slightly exceed men in ownership of a mobile phone, a computer, and a car, as well as participation in household financial decisions.
  • A majority of citizens say women should have the same rights as men to get paying jobs (59%) and to own and inherit land (77%).
  • Three-fourths (75%) of Zimbabweans say women should have the same chance as men of being elected to public office.
  • More than half (57%) of Zimbabweans say the government is doing a “fairly good” or “very good” job of promoting equal rights and opportunities for women. Poor citizens are less likely to approve of the government’s performance.

Gender equality is a cross-cutting theme that underlies most of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is a necessary foundation for a prosperous and inclusive world (World Economic Forum, 2015). Efforts to secure equal rights for Zimbabwean women are grounded in the 2013 Constitution, which provides for equality among all citizens, and the National Gender Policy of 2013 (Empowerwomen, 2017).

The World Economic Forum (2022) Global Gender Gap Index ranks Zimbabwe 50th out of 146 countries – eighth in sub-Saharan Africa – in gender parity, suggesting both progress and remaining challenges on the country’s path toward gender equality. As of January 2023, 31% of National Assembly seats and 44% of Senate seats were held by women (Inter- Parliamentary Union, 2023). One-third of women aged 20–24 were married or in union before age 18 (UN Women, 2022). Access to financial services is uneven, and just 16% of firms have women in top management positions (World Economic Forum, 2022). Only two-thirds of legal frameworks considered necessary to promote, enforce, and monitor gender equality under SDG indicators are in place (UN Women, 2022).

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 (2021/2023) questionnaire to explore Africans’ experiences and perceptions of gender equality in control over assets, hiring, land ownership, and political leadership. (For findings on gender-based violence, see Moyo-Nyede, 2022).

In Zimbabwe, majorities express support for women’s right to equality in hiring, land ownership, and political leadership. But most also consider it likely that a woman will suffer criticism, harassment, or family problems if she runs for elective office.

Overall, a majority of Zimbabweans approve of the government’s performance in promoting equal rights and opportunities for women, but a similar majority say greater efforts are needed. Citizens say gender-based violence and a dearth of women in influential government positions are the most important women’s-rights issues that the government and society must address.

Simangele Moyo-Nyede

Simangele is a research officer Mass Public Opinion Institute

Jonathan Kugarakuripi

Jonathan Kugarakuripi is a research officer for Mass Public Opinion Institute in Harare