Wendy Chiriri – Zimbabwe

Wendy Chiriri – Zimbabwe

Date: June 28, 2013
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I am a young councilor for Chitungwiza, at only 33 years old. I obtained my Ordinary level studies in 1994, and obtained a job in one of the local surgeries. As the Zimbabwean economy was becoming more and more uncertain every day, I decided to leave my employment, and joined politics. I feared that the prevailing situation was going to cause the closure of many surgeries. Joining politics has seen me become the councillor for Chitungwiza Municipality. Hard work and determination saw me operating first as the secretary for the ward, and as the vice secretary for the district.

I first met Gender Links in 2009, at the Chitungwiza Municipal offices. This is the first time I met an organisation that works with both men and women on the issue of gender. This is the most memorable experience, since it was the first time the council held a meeting for both female and male councillors.

Gender Links gave me essential knowledge on the SADC protocol on gender and development. It turned me into a much more confident woman. I am now able to speak in the Council chamber with confidence. I attribute my success to other women and men who have supported me, as I have worked hand in hand with them. These are the people who sometimes come up with new ideas and new adventures. Gender Links has given me the skills and confidence to build these relationships, and depending on them has made my work much richer.

I now have many initiatives under my name that have brought change to the community. I unveiled the community garden just in time to curb extreme poverty and hunger. I used the recently distributed Constituency Development Fund to maintain the inefficient drainage system. The sewing project that is yielding positive results is also my brain child. I also revived the observance of hand washing day in the community. I know these initiatives have had a positive impact on peoples lives and health.

The worst experience that I encountered was the political violence that took place in 2008, immediately after I was voted into office. The situation occurred unexpectedly, as I never anticipated that things would go so badly wrong. After weighing the dangers that were involved with politics, I almost gave up. However, the encounter with GL in 2009 further strengthened me, and equipped me with skills that would help me overcome the challenges that were ahead of me. GL created the right platform, where women and men interact and share useful ideas that will foster genuine development in our communities.

My mother always appears on top of the role models list; I appreciate the effort she made in educating her children so much. I am also inspired by other female politicians, like Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe and the Vice President Joyce Mujuru. By analysing the good examples that were set by these women, I strongly feel that it is my duty to bring a difference in the lives of both men and women. The desire to make my mother proud makes me remain focused.

I am always encouraging women to join politics and work with organisations like Gender Links and the Women in Politics Support Unit. I am extremely dissatisfied by the traditional belief that female politicians have loose morals. But, there is a bright side to the story! It gives me the chance to be a good example in the community. Many women admire the example that I set, and they are willing to step into this leadership space too.

I have no plans to move up the political ladder; I want to continue working with people at the grassroots level. I am pushed by the desire to discover the genuine reasons that make women hesitant to join the political arena. I am also interested in working more with women’s organisations. With time, I am planning to unveil projects that will be instrumental in stopping all forms of gender based violence.



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