Clara Makwara – Zimbabwe

Clara Makwara – Zimbabwe

Date: May 29, 2012
  • SHARE:

I am a 43 year old councillor for the Chitungwiza Municipality. I was forced to end my education at the ordinary level due to family circumstances. However, I never felt my education level limited me, because I worked very hard, and have been able to participate fully in local government. After completing my ordinary level studies, I found a job in the textile industry. I got married in 1988, but the marriage did not go well, and ended up in divorce. After the failure of my first marriage, I remarried a non-politician. In 1996, I took a bold step, and left my position as an employee in the clothing industry and started working as a sole proprietor, designing clothes. I became a church deacon who specializes in interior decoration, and this has brought me a lot of respect in the community.

I started my political career in 2001, and since 2002 have been very active. In 2007, I became a female councilor. By that time, I had developed a passion for women’s emancipation, so I entered the political arena with one goal in mine: to lessen the burden on women. I was voted into office in 2008, and contested for the Chairperson of Housing and Social Services Committee. I won that post. The workshops I’ve attended on women’s emancipation continued to drive me, and led me to become the Chairperson for the General Purposes Committee. I beg to differ with the people who insist that politics is a dirty game. I think the political arena can be a very healthy space, and can be a positive force for change.

I first encountered Gender Links in 2009, at the Chitungwiza Municipality during their local government survey. My encounters with Gender Links has yielded positive results, that were manifested in the form of initiatives that I masterminded. I introduced a clean-up campaign that has changed the face of the community. The campaign has run under the banner “Jambanja Environmental Sanitiation Intiative”, and I think it has been a demonstration of my commitment and energy. The initiative took place at a time when a cholera outbreak was wreaking havoc in the area, and we all had to work round the block until the outbreak was under control. I started holding workshops to impart knowledge to residents. I managed to mobilize 53 women and 26 men to join the clean-up campaign.

The clean-up campaigns were being held on Mondays on a voluntary basis; there were no incentives due to a lack of resources, but I was still impressed by the dedication and commitment of members of the community. I took the opportunity presented by the clean-up programme to teach people about GBV issues. At that time, it was really challenging trying to impart this knowledge to members of the community; I found they were not receptive, and my approach was not helping. I looked to Gender Links for knowledge and guidance.

The skills I gained through working with Gender Links have helped me come up with real change. I now have knowledge of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development; this has helped me look holistically at eliminating all forms of discrimination. I am very thankful for Gender Links for empowering me to teach other people. With this knowledge, combined with the skills I’ve gained on how to impart this knowledge and implement change, I am much more effective in my work. This has happened in addition to practical skills which have kept me abreast with the changing times, including computer skills. These in turn have strengthened my research skills, which empower me with even more knowledge. It is a positive cycle.

I entered the political arena without enough knowledge of how to handle my new responsibilities. With the support of Gender Links, my horizons were widened, and my work has been strengthened. I managed to come up with forums on GBV, for example. The forums are called “Instant Truth and Justice”, and they are held every Monday. I use this as a platform to counsel victims of GBV, and assist them in finding the necessary help whenever it is required. This forum works to protect victims of GBV, and make sure perpetrators are brought to book.

One of the most difficult experiences I had to deal with is when a family in my ward was involved in GBV that resulted in the death of the wife. The maid took over as the new wife immediately after the burial of the first wife. The husband later died, and the step mother chased the children away from the home. I had to become directly involved, and I took care of the children until what rightfully belonged to them was restored. But it was a very difficult time. I am happy that the Instant Truth and Justice Forum is breaking boundaries in my community, and even expanding to other areas. We can see the impact of what we do. Recently, we managed to assist a women who was chased from her matrimonial home. Another real success is when a man who was being abused by his wife consulted us for help. We took the issue seriously and managed to rectify the situation. This demonstrates the level of trust we have built in the community.

I can say that my success would not have been possible without the support of Gender Links, the Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU), and other organizations I have been working with. I see now how it is my duty to bring a difference to the lives of both men and women, and how we must all work together to make this change happen. When community members see the passion I have for development, they give me a lot of respect. This allows us all to work together for change. I am planning to continue working in Local Government as this is the only platform that can give me an opportunity to interact with people at grass roots level.


Comment on Clara Makwara – Zimbabwe

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *