By FIONA MPOFU
GENDER links country manager, Mrs Priscillar Maphosa has encouraged councils to come together in their respective Provinces to structure collective interventions to deal with gender issues in their areas.
She was speaking at the launch of the new Gender hub in Umguza Rural district last Thursday.
Umguza rural district was selected to be one of the 16 hub centers in the country because it has a stand alone gender committee and gender policy.
“The essence of the programme is to ensure that councils come up with gender responsive policies and programmes. We want councils to ensure that gender issues are key and central to council business.” said Maphosa.
Local authorities were encouraged to work with their partners in developing the gender action plan and 50/50 based activities due to the poor representation of women in the country.
“We are also looking at issues to do with 50/50 activities,” Maphosa said. She added, “it is a fact that in Zimbabwe women are lowly represented in decision making structures both as administrators of council and as politicians.”
With reference to the 2018 elections Mrs Maphosa noted that there was a 2% drop in the representation of women in local government from 16% representation in 2013. The 2018 elections saw only 14% of women making it to local governance positions.
Bobotheka , shingirira survival support group, a group of gender based violence survivors working with Gender links and Umguza Rural District Council was present at the launch showcasing products they have made and are selling in their communities.
Products such as dish washing liquid, beads, cool drinks (cream soda and raspberry), bangles, headbands, and decor bottles were on display.
“Saqalisa sixoxa ngokwe Msasa, like iviolence, sahlangana singomama ngoku-abhyuzwa ezindlini. Sasesisapotwa langamaguruphu atshiyetshiyeneyo, saqalisa ke ukudonate izimali singabomama singu15. Saqalisa ukupheka amadrinks, isunlight labosurf lecobra (We established this group from talks facilitated by the Msasa Project such as dialogues on domestic violence, then we met as women who were being abused. We were then supported by different groups and made financial contributions as 15 members that helped us start producing drinks, sunlight liquid, surf and cobra),” said Nobuhle Sibanda, a member of the Bobotheka shingirira survival support group.
In a bid to curb Gender based violence (GBV) Gender links and Umguza Rural District (URDC) have a one stop centre at Nyamandlovu where victims can attain the services of Victim Friendly Unit (VFU), counselling, nurse care and legal aid all in one place.
Speaking to Amakhosikazi media, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWALA) lawyer, Nkanyezi Xaba highlighted that women in rural areas rarely took the legal route to deal with their abuse issues.
“Women are not keen to report basically. They are not keen to pursue their cases. They come for legal advice then disappear. I guess customarily because in rural areas they depend more on the family structure. Given a chance to choose between the legal route and the family structure, they are bound to choose dealing with the issues through the family structure,” Xaba said.
In a bid to deal with the problem of sanitary wear in rural areas National Aids Council (NAC) working together with Mahlothova Secondary school through the Sister2Sister (S2S) initiative, managed to develop reusable pads for the girls at the school. Melody Nkomo, a Sister2Sister member said,
“Amapads lawa ayasinceda kakhulu kwesinye isikhathi nxa kuyikuthi esikolo omunye usengene esikhathini kungela mapads, siyakwanisa ukumnceda (These pads help a lot especially at school, when a student gets their periods and the school has no pads to assist, we can then be able to help the student).”
A Sister2Sister mentor at the school, Mildred told this publication that their club’s aim was to provide pads for all the girls at the school, however they were still facing challenges of inadequate resources. Resources such as brushed linen, and fleece used in the production of the pads and the machines used in the sewing process are limited.
“We want our local authorities to engage their partners, even as they develop their action plan, we want that collaboration between council and other stakeholders,” said the Gender links Country Manager Maphosa.