Owen Gwasira – Zimbabwe

Owen Gwasira – Zimbabwe


Date: May 29, 2012
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I have worked for the Chiredzi Local Town Council as the auditor for the last two years. One of my most memorable experiences was when the CEO of Gender Links, Collen Lowe Morna came to the council to see the progress of the projects they started. I thought it was wonderful for the CEO to see some of the presentations that have been made on paper, to give them life. It was very humbling to see someone of her stature in the field, interviewing people the way her staff do. She went to see all the good projects as well as some of the projects that are not good- such as the council housing known as Majarada. A top person went to a small town, it was very memorable for me.

I first encountered Gender Links when Bernadette Chipembere and Precious Musetse went through the training given by the organization in 2011. We got so much information from this, and we went on to disseminate all that we learned through the ward and through the schools. Since that meeting, Gender Links has been very supportive in our town. We liaise regularly with Priscilla Maposa, who is very good at communicating and keeping everyone informed of updates.

I can definitely say that I have changed quite a lot over the last year. I have learned that sometimes you think you know something, but you do not. Now, I know a lot more about gender than I did in the past. I have new respect for my partners and colleagues. I see the change in the Chiredzi Town Council; if you would have asked us before, we never would have said that gender was an issue, even though we weren’t gender sensitive. Now, we are. I feel that since starting with Gender Links, the team in general has improved greatly.

Gender Links has equipped me with knowledge and understanding, which is a very useful tool. In the past, I thought that progress on most issues was about money, and now I understand that this is not always the case. One of the best changes I have seen taking place in the council is that we applied what we learned in the 50/50 campaign, and we are trying to employ equal numbers of men and women. Also, as a council we have taken the knowledge we have gained, and are trying to spread it through the community. There is a need for community members to understand the information, so society changes.

Another thing the council is doing is keeping disaggregated data on all our projects. We decided this was very important, to understand the progress in our community. It is also important for the purposes of resource allocation. At least by 2015, I want there to be a proper system for resource allocation, with equality for both men and women in our wards as a result of the training.

Even with all these changes, I believe the best things I have gained from Gender Links are communication skills and confidence. I was very shy, and I came out of my shell. I love women; I love spending time with women… There is something that comes with women giving you respect because they see you as one of them… you just become one of the girls. This inspires me to continue doing the work that I’m doing. The level of personal interaction is very rewarding; it feels good to know that I am acting like a good man. When people engage with me, I feel empowered in a new way.

As a result of my work with Gender Links, I have experienced an attitude change. I interact more with others. I can see the women in the councils looking at me differently; there is a different respect I can feel from the community. Now, people come to me and ask me questions about addressing situations outside my job description, and I attribute this to changes that have happened through Gender Links training.

I believe that as people become more approachable, more women become involved in many things, because they feel they are able to engage. Creating an open and free environment enables more women to speak freely. I feel the women in my council are free to speak up now, because of the changes the council has gone through thanks to GL.

I want to be the CEO of a local council some day. I also want to build myself into an expert on gender issues. If one day Gender Links stops operating, I want to be able to continue the work they have started. I need to validate the gender activism I’m currently engaged with by studying something related to gender.

 


2 thoughts on “Owen Gwasira – Zimbabwe”

I understand evrything u Said,but my question is based on chizvirizvi.i want u to tell me that what we must do in chizvirizvi to get the stands around our shops

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