Irene Nhloko – Zimbabwe

Irene Nhloko – Zimbabwe

Date: August 29, 2013
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I am a female councilor in my second term in office in Zibagwe. I was born and bred in Zambia, but after completing my ordinary level studies, I got married to a Zimbabwean man. I relocated to Zimbabwe at that time, and entered the political arena. From early on, my husband was an inspirational force behind this decision, since he was also a politician. Before I knew it, I was a custodian of this new community I found myself living in.

As a councillor, I represent my community at the local level, and help develop policies that ensure good governance. I’m responsive for service provision, since I chair the Social Service Committee. I also assist the Council Chairperson in supervising all the affairs of the council.

Since I have been in council, there have been many notable changes in the community. One of the areas of work I am most proud of is the income generating projects. Through them, I managed to pay school fees for 150 vulnerable children, as well as take care of 16 elderly parents who were abandoned by their children. I have also built an orphanage in the community. Projects like these and others see people’s livelihoods uplifted, and genuinely serve the community.

So often when I am trying to make positive changes in the community, my efforts will be frustrated by men who find it difficult to but the idea of having a women in a position of power. What worries me most is when men use women to bring down other women. It makes me angry when women take part in exploiting and bringing down other women.

There were times when these challenges nearly caused me to give up. I advocated for female kraal heads in my village, and it nearly destroyed my marriage. Other men in the community connived with my husband and accused me to creating anarchy and despondency. I was labelled as deviant, because people thought I was introducing issues that contradicted the norms and values of society. Changing peoples mindsets on issues of culture and tradition can be very challenging. In the end, however, I managed to resolve the situation; my ward now has 6 female and 6 male village heads.

Gender Links has helped me every step of the way in my achievements. I have received so much support from them in different arenas. One of the most important things I have taken from Gender Links is a recognition of my work, which strengthens my character, particularly when I’m facing challenges. Their recognition motivates me to carry on this work in spite of the difficulties. I am grateful that Gender Links puts my ward on the map. It makes me take my own work more seriously, knowing that it has importance and significance to such a wide range of people. It motivates me to work even harder.

I have pledged to make a difference in the lives of both men and women. Working with Gender Links, I’ve learned to treat people equally regardless of gender or political orientation. This is a lesson that has stuck with me so strongly, and it comes out in my work. I know I need to focus on developmental activities and charity work.

My aim in the future is to see women showing their power, and infiltrating decision making areas. The participation of women in key decision making areas will result in an environment that nurtures humanity. Women are the right candidates for national healing, because we are peace lovers.


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