Zimbabwe: Charity Tambara

Date: August 29, 2019
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“When l saw our Council Gender Focal Person (GFP) presenting during the 2014 Local Government Summit in Masvingo I told myself that l can also do it but the question was how as I thought it was for staff members only. The words that I heard were all new and l have never heard words like SADC Gender Protocol. Not everyone has an opportunity to learn and be successful in life. However, by the grace of God Goromonzi RDC linked me with the Women in Local Government Forum and Gender Links. Had it not been for my passion to learn I would not be where l am today. It has been a journey full of good and memorable experiences as well as activities that touched the lives of people including the community l serve”.

Charity Tambara is one of the three women councillors in Goromonzi Rural District Council. She took it upon herself to champion gender mainstreaming activities in the district. She is the gender champion for the district as well as deputy chairperson of the Women in Local Government Forum (WLGF). She is a hard worker and wants to improve the lives of people in her community as well as teaching them life skills. For the period she has been a Councillor she managed to mobilise resources and build a clinic as the community was walking a long distance to the nearest health care facility. A site for a secondary school has been identified and she has already started mobilising resources for its construction. She facilitated for the mentors who came to her ward to teach the community various skills such as market gardening, baking and basic business management skills. Tambara is a trainer of trainers in the entrepreneurship programme that is offered to gender based violence survivors.

Prior to joining the programme she was in an abusive relationship but she managed to fight for her rights. She managed to secure a farm in Manyame and she owns a stand where she built a house. Gender Based Violence survivors seek shelter in her house. The woman coordinates all developmental activities in the ward to make sure that there are better livelihoods. “I managed to ensure that most survivors of gender-based violence in my ward have been equipped with entrepreneurship skills. I also supported them until they have also managed to participate at the SADC Protocol@Work Summit under the Entrepreneurship category,” said Tambara. This was done as a way of empowering survivors of GBV as well as increasing their sources of income and reducing poverty. Tambara introduced home bread making and market gardening for women to improve their livelihoods. “I initiated a poultry project for the entire community. In 2019, I engaged the National AIDS Council to introduce Sister to Sister programme as a way of empowering women. I also managed to lobby for the establishment of One Stop Centre at rural service centres in Goromonzi District. I was part of the team that worked on a paper on women’s quota in Local Government,” said Tambara.

At close relations she managed to build a house at her homestead. She is now able to pay school fees for all her six children. Working hard also changed the way her husband viewed her and he started supporting her. “I am now capable of taking care of my parents and in-laws. I always smile when I remember the words, they say last time when visited them last 2020 with 10 bags of maize, “maita basa vachirera nherera” literally translated “thank you very much caregiver of orphans”.

Tambara said that through working as a female councillor she noticed that it takes time for a woman to be heard in decision making meaning that there is still a gap that needs to be covered to address gender equality. However, she is grateful because the programme gave them an opportunity to participate in the regional summit in 2019 in Zambia. The regional summit allowed women councillors to share strategies for lobbying for special measures for women in local government. It was also after that event that they worked together as a team and managed to meet His Excellency President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and presented their challenges as women Councillors. They lobbied for the quota system at local government level and the President responded positively by giving a 30 percent quota for females at local authority level.

Other factors that have been responsible for the change are the Women in Local Government quarterly meetings that she attended and helped each other on how they can improve the way they mainstream gender. The gender focal person as well as the Chief Executive officer has also been responsible for the change. They gave Tambara all the support that she needed to achieve her goals. They also encouraged her to participate in developmental programmes. Goromonzi Rural District Council has provided female councillors with various workshops that assisted them in carrying out their duties.

Economic hardships and the COVID-19 pandemic derailed completion of various projects and Tambara managed to overcome these challenges through hardworking and carrying awareness campaigns although gender-based violence cases have increased because of pandemic lockdown restrictions. “I bought a motor bike to enable me to reach out to other parts of the ward. There has also been engagement with various partners to assist various projects and programme within the district. Therefore, there is need for more effort to carryout gender-based violence as well as gender equality awareness campaigns. There is also need to encourage women to support each other,” said Tambara.

The ambitious councillor’s plans are to target all age groups in her community so that they are well represented in the decision-making structures. She also wants to help the less privileged and people with disabilities so that they have a better way of living. Tambara intends to keep on advocating for gender equality to reduce gender-based violence in the district. She has plans to visit other local authorities and learn best practices for replication purposes and she wants to ensure that a safe house is built in her constituency.

The sky is the limit age is nothing but just a number. It is never too late to learn new things. Together we can reduce gender-based violence and achieve gender equality. Lastly, she wants to enroll for a degree at Midlands State University.