Date: May 18, 2021
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My memorable experience with Gender Links was when I was invited as a junior councillor to attend a workshop on SRHR workshop at Pandhari Hotel. Since it was my first time to go to a hotel, I will not forget the experience later alone the workshop as I was hearing new words in my life. I never knew that I had rights concerning my sexuality.

Gender Links has transformed my life through the training that I received at Pandhari Hotel. It has installed in me self-confidence and to stand up for my rights as a girl child. When I was chosen to be a junior councillor I was scared and timid being a female leader. I grew up knowing that males were supposed to lead everybody including the females. Since I was born and before that our ward was led by male councillor. The urge to break the curse of being led by males led me to accept the post of being a junior councillor.

Through the training that I got at Pandhari and my subsequent work prove that I am a driver of change. After the workshop in which we came up with an action plan, I held feedback meetings in my ward and at my school. To help with menstrual health, our council came up with a project of distributing pads to the girl child. I was the focal person on this exercise. Most girls were not attending lessons during their menstrual cycle as they could not afford pads. We also had a project of sewing reusable pads that we distributed and taught my fellow girls how to sew them. The entrepreneurial skill s that we were taught at Pandhari helped us to start our pad making project. These pads are sold at a nominal price since most girls cannot afford the ones sold in shops.

After the training at Pandhari I was chosen among all the junior councillors of Zvimba RDC to be a member of the child protection Committee. This was after I held an awareness campaign on SRHR with the help of my council. Other awareness campaigns that I participated were organised by Orion Foundation. The campaign theme was “Roadmap to young women development”. The other one at our school where we were educating the form four girls on the effects of early marriages. I attribute and give all credit to Priscilla Maposa the Country Manager of Gender Links who removed my blinkers as we were taught self confidence and how to articulate issues concerning SRHR.

The training at Pandhari was the beginning of more training and workshop/conferences to be attended. From 19 to 23 August 2019 a attended a national conference as a Junior councillor in held at Masvingo Teachers College. At this conference I realised that a girl child can break stereotypes. It was a good platform whereas junior councillors we exchanged notes. It was an eye opener as we learned a lot from what other junior councillors were doing in their councils. Our mentor was very helpful in linking us with other junior councillors.

Other interaction with Gender Links was through the 16 days campaign commemoration that was funded by gender Links which our council commemorated on 21 December 2020. Here the rights of the girl child were spelled out through speeches, song, dance, and drama. As the focal person on SRHR I gave a solidarity speech to end violence against girls and boys.

A lot has changed in my life. I can now stand up for my rights and teach other girls our rights. All the lack of confidence is gone. I can now hold awareness campaigns, start a business through the training that I received from Gender Links. Priscilla Maposa gets all the credit for training me.

In my community I am now the “minister of the girl child” as referred by councillor Makore my ward councillor. In all her ward meeting she goes with me and gives me a platform to talk about SRHR issues. I give many thanks to my councillor who support me in my work that is councillor Makore.

At home I get the support of all my family members in my campaign work. Our family is now empowered through my awareness campaigns since I start them at home.

All these changes could not have been achieved had it not been the leadership of my mentor Diana Mushayavanhu who supervises our work as junior councillors.

In my work as a junior councillor there are numerous challenges that I faced. In the beginning other students could not listen to me saying that I was fabricating the issues. The school could not give us ample time to do our campaigns. We overcame this problem by holding our campaigns in the community through the ward councillor organised meetings. When we involved the ward councillor in our campaigns other children began to take us seriously. The other challenge was what council did not give us adequate time to debate our issues in council and to mix and mingle with council in the council chambers though I would like to thank them for supporting us in our campaigns.

To summit it up all I am grateful to Gender Links for opening my eyes and now as an outgoing junior councillor, I can share with the upcoming junior councillor what I learnt.

In future I would want to become a social worker so that I can help the less privileged since I have learnt how to work with the public.

“There is need for a council budget to spearhead action plans set by junior councillors.”