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Dr Thokozani Chilenga-Butao – Department of Political Studies, University of Witwatersrand – Opening Spaces

This week on Womanity-Women in Unity, Dr. Amaleya Goneos-Malka talks to Dr Thokozani  Chilenga-Butao from the Department of Political Studies at the University of Witwatersrand.

2024 is an election year for more than 60 countries around the world, representing almost 50% of the global population. Political policies shape the narrative of societies and underscores importance of citizen’s having a say in the way that their country is governed.

Dr Chilenga-Butao shares her perspectives on three benefits afforded to citizens voting in democratic elections. The first is representation, the possibility of electing officials that not only hear their needs, but deliver them too. The second is the protection of basic freedoms and human rights, so that people are able to express themselves in and live life in a way that they choose to. Thirdly, people should be able to live peacefully, and not find themselves in a dictatorship. Recent elections in South Africa, have shown that people were dissatisfied with the status quo and used their votes to effect political change.

We note that the global representation of female parliament members is 26.9%, and consider that education, access to funding and countering personal attacks, such as insults and negative commentary, adhering to party rhetoric are some of the barriers that impede women’s access and progress in politics. Dr Chilenga-Butao notes that women politicians, irrespective of political party affiliation, tend to speak the same language when it comes to injustice, and this consistent collective common voice drives change. For example, in South Africa, female politicians banded together to abolish period tax and tackle gender-based violence.

Dr Chilenga-Butao reminds us that time is finite and encourages us to take action today and keep pushing the edge of our boundaries open to more opportunities. The gains we make for ourselves and families also serve to inspire others to action their own dreams.

Tune in for more…

 

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