Zimbabwe: Catherine Mhondiwa

Date: September 6, 2019
  • SHARE:

I am a married woman, who is mother to 3 boys. I started gender work in 1999 after I noticed some difficulties and challenges that the majority especially women were facing regards their failure to access basic services in our local authority. Our local authority was providing poor service in general without any consideration to the gender impact, of service delivery. This presented me with a gap that I am trying to fill. Although the gap is still there I am happy to say there have been some notable changes due to my advocacy work as I seek to be notable a driver of change in my community.

I am a link between my Council and community. As Councillor I am a policy maker as I represent the views of my community in Council. As a community we have needs and wants and it is those needs that I as a Councillor will then take to council. It is my duty as Councillor to come up with community projects that will help to uplift the standards of people living in my community.

The negative aspect of my work is political polarization in my community and also some male counterparts look down upon me as I am a woman. There is male dominance as I am the only female Councillor, in most cases my voice is stifled. People still regard women as second class citizen whose only is role to take care of the family.

Championing gender has greatly changed my life as before I used to perceive gender as a women issue that is not important. By championing gender I am now able to identify challenges that we face as women and how to resolve those challenges. The community has even applauded me for the changes. “Councillor Mhondiwa has changed our community a lot, ever since she became a Councillor our ward now receives water during the day as compared to days before she was a Councillor” says Ruth Banda a resident in Ward 13.

At household level, I am seeing some changes with my sons ever since I started championing gender in my community. My children are learning a lot from me. Her son Takudzwa commented that “My mom has taught us a lot about gender mainstreaming. We now have a lot of respect for women, we now view them as equal they are not a weaker sex”.

At institutional level, Gweru City Council now considers gender in service provision, service delivery is now provided with consideration to its impact on gender. I have also pushed for the formation of gender committee in Council. Admire Chigayo, says “Councillor Mhondiwa has helped us a lot, when she came in she advocated for the formation of the gender committee”.

I attended a gender mainstreaming workshop in Masvingo in 2014, the workshop was facilitated by Gender Links. I managed to implement what I learnt at City of Gweru by assisting the gender committee. I learnt that gender mainstreaming is the right thing to do as it improves service delivery. I also learnt that as female policy makers we should assist each other and advocate for the inclusion of more women in policy making.

Going forward I would to encourage women to be leaders as leadership is not a male role only, as I have noted that as women we are capable and we can do it. I also have plans to grow as an individual I want to stand as a member of parliament for my area