Muchineripi Chinyanganya – Zimbabwe


Date: October 12, 2015
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Developing Kadoma to be a Human Rights City

“This point is often missed by evangelical feminists. They conclude that a difference in function necessarily involves a difference in essence; i.e., if men are in authority over women, then women must be inferior. The relationship between Christ and the Father shows us that this reasoning is flawed. One can possess a different function and still be equal in essence and worth. Women are equal to men in essence and in being; there is no ontological distinction, and yet they have a different function or role in church and home. Such differences do not logically imply inequality or inferiority, just as Christ’s subjection to the Father does not imply His inferiority.” John Piper

The first time I visited Single Quarters and General Barracks in Kadoma I came face to face with living conditions that I did not know people could live in. A family of more than three living in one room, sharing communal toilets which were not being cleaned and had no potable water. There was rampant abuse of girl children and women at the hands of men. This was a breeding ground of diseases, crime and child prostitution. As a leader I knew the task that lay ahead of me and that such issues had to be addressed if people were to have their basic human rights protected and promoted, including gender equality. I qualify to be a driver of change because of my passion, my contribution and my plans around gender issues, as well as my participation in gender programmes.

I was born on 17 April 1982 in at Ngezi Rural Hospital. I went to four primary schools and four secondary schools. I graduated from the University of Zimbabwe with a Bachelor of Laws Honours degree, majoring in International and Human Rights Law in 2007. I studied Women’s Law as a course and I was the only male student in my class. The knowledge that I acquired from that course made me passionate about gender equality. In 2008 I was elected as the Deputy Mayor of the City of Kadoma. In 2013 I was elected Mayor of the City of Kadoma. I have worked with Sisters of Hope, a church organisation that helps widows and orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). I worked at Murambatsvina Legal Practitioners in 2010. I also work at the National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe as a legal advisor. Initially my passion for gender work started when I was growing up after seeing the abuse my mother went through at the hands of my step-father. I vowed to fight for women’s rights. In council I have been instrumental in adopting policies that promote gender equality. I have helped many women who were suffering gender based violence (GBV) and facing persecution after the deaths of their husbands. I have had the privilege of representing Kadoma City Council at the 2014 Gender Links Summit where I came second in the leadership category. My personal mission is to be a driver of change in gender equality and the promotion and protection of human rights.

As mayor I head the Council in terms of decision and policy making. It also involves representing Council at various civic functions. In terms of decision and policy making, I have taken it upon myself as the head of Council to have my council adopt some new concepts in local governance and service delivery incorporating gender issues. The allocations and explanation of resource mobilisation is in the attachment.

As the mayor of the city, I have adopted an approach whereby Kadoma City is regarded as a Human Rights City. We are moving away from the old concept whereby services are merely provided as a duty and we now regard the needs of our residents as rights. My council is taking into consideration the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the new constitution of Zimbabwe, the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations Charter on Human Rights, the SADC Gender Protocol, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, International Covenant in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. Services that are now provided as human rights include water as a basic human right, shelter by provision of serviced stands and social houses, health and maternity services at council clinics. The council now has an OI Clinic and a clean environment as a result of constant refuse collection and timeous response to sewer bursts. The right to education is provided by building schools, the council has 6 schools and gender equality at the workplace by having a gender policy. Council has adopted a gender equality approach to empowering women and the girl child in Kadoma. The approach is at ward level and is conducted through various projects, for example ward based groups do tasks such as drain cleaning and street cleaning.

Making service delivery a human rights issue has led to a marked improvement in service provision. Community participation has greatly improved; there is positive change in council employees’ way of thinking on gender issues and many families’ lives have changed since women now have sources of income from the projects that have been undertaken.

The challenges we face include non-payment of rates which affect efficient service delivery. Incorporating gender issues at the workplace initially faced resistance from men and there is low funding to initiate gender awareness programmes at council and in the community and a lack of resources to record more songs and videos and launch the songs. I had to fund the project from my own pocket, including recording the song and video, t-shirts and transport.

Championing gender has made me a leader who views issues differently. It has made me think outside the box on all issues of life. Whereas in the past I just used to make decisions based on what was there, I now have to think about how it affects gender. Most policies that we now make as council are gender sensitive. As a qualified legal practitioner, I render my services to the community for free, especially in the field of succession and inheritance and gender based violence as well. I work with a group of female musicians including Lipsy, Mic of Hope with the aim of preaching gender equality and fighting against GBV and early child marriages through music. We recorded a video of the song Munhukadzi Wakakosha. My life has changed because I now realise the need to promote gender equality. Some cultural, religious, corporate and societal beliefs, practices and notions need to be redressed and I want to play a part. City of Kadoma councillors and directors, especially Mr Chirundu, have been instrumental in this change. What my mother went through when I was growing up moulded me into a Gender Champion even before I was aware of the term.

“The Mayor’s passion for gender issues has greatly increased and is growing with age. He has taken it upon himself to effect change on gender issues, both at Council and in the community.” Matty Dhliwayo, Kadoma City Council Gender Focal Person.

The change in my life has helped Kadoma City Council adopt policies and practices that are gender sensitive and these include:
. Gender policy
. Recruitment and promotion policy
. HIV and AIDS policy
. Gender based budget
. There is now a female Director of Finance, Mrs F. Zhou
. Female security personnel
. Female heavy duty drivers
. Female fire fighters
. Female workers in road rehabilitation
. Six male midwives
. Kadoma City as a Centre of Excellence on gender
. Provision of services as human rights
. Employment of the physically challenged

“I became the first female director at Kadoma City Council because of the gender equality approach of the Mayor who is really working hard to make sure that women are promoted to influential positions.” Mrs Faustina Zhou, Director of Finance, Kadoma City Council

Change at community level includes having ward meetings; personal engagement with affected people; empowering the less privileged in the community, for example sourcing and donating of wheelchairs and engaging community groups in service delivery programmes. Examples are drain cleaning, street cleaning, WASH programmes with a thrust towards empowering women, for example in WASH projects we have GESI, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion champions who are mainly women.

In the community people are now aware of gender issues and the need to participate in developmental programmes. Music reaches the audience faster and the music project will have a great impact in changing the lives of both men and women with regard to gender issues.

“The Mayor has really helped us by empowering us as women. We are now working as community groups and doing the work which was thought that women could not do, that is road maintenance. We are now able to look after our families.” Diana Takaendesa, 33 year old mother of two.

Because I have the requisite knowledge on gender laws due to my legal training, as well as the passion, it has been possible for me to influence policy to be gender sensitive. Council now has the following policies: a gender policy; recruitment and promotion policy and employee wellness policy. Council has adopted the National AIDS Policy. My Council participates in International Women’s Day celebrations, 16 Days of Activism and International Day of the African Child and people gather and we relay the necessary information on gender issues. This has led to the public being made aware of their rights and women have been empowered through knowledge sharing. Due to these policies and programmes there has been a drastic positive change in practices that affect gender issues, such as employment, gender based violence, early marriage and participation in developmental programmes.

“After the death of my husband, my late husband’s relatives wanted to take over my house and our property but the Mayor helped me by educating me on my rights as the surviving spouse. Now I am living peacefully with my children.” Tendai Marezva, widow

My council has been running training programmes at council level, ward level and national level. Councillors, directors and council employees have been trained on gender issues by various organisations like the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre Network, Gender Links, Zimrights, etc. At community level people have been capacitated through training programmes and awareness programmes. The community has been capacitated through employment as community groups. I have held awareness meetings with women in the community telling them about their rights and covering topics such as succession, inheritance, divorce and GBV.

“Being a woman who was constantly being abused by my husband was a nightmare. I was always living in fear and was afraid of reporting my husband to the police. However, when the mayor held a meeting with us as women teaching us our rights I took a bold decision. I reported the abuse to the police and I am now living a happy life. I am now able to help other women as well. I thank the Mayor for giving us free life-changing education. God bless him.” Sharon Chingwaro, a 29 year old married woman and a mother of two.

Developing the City of Kadoma as a Human Rights City is a process that has had its own challenges. The concept itself is still new and adoption was a challenge and there were limited financial resources. The inculcated institutional, religious, cultural and personal practices and beliefs often cause challenges. I overcame these by explaining and convincing my workmates on the benefits of Kadoma as a Human Rights City. I used available resources and developed programmes without funds and I find that imparting knowledge and sharing experiences has helped to change mind sets.

My major plan is to have the City of Kadoma become a model of a human rights city. This begins with a concept where services are provided by the City Council as basic human rights. With such a concept we are helping to uphold the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Council will continue working with residents, stakeholders and partners undertaking gender awareness programmes. I am planning to have music shows in the community with Mic of Hope to make the gender message reach everyone in a more appealing way. I plan, by the end of this year, to register a trust that will be responsible for human rights awareness. especially on gender and women’s rights.

In conclusion there is light at the end of the tunnel and Kadoma will be a model of a Human Rights City.

 

 


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