Zimbabwe: Denicah Makota

Date: September 6, 2019
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I started to be involved in gender work at Zvimba council since my office is located in Zvimba rural district council, hence I’m a gender stakeholder of their programs and initiatives. The gender focal person of ZRDC always invited me on their gender awareness workshops and I attended most of their community based projects in empowering women since 2004, the social service office groomed me to be who I am today. I did a national diploma in secretarial management and thought that was my final destination because I am a woman, until I met the gender focal person who motivated me to aim higher positions thus I completed my bachelor of arts degree in Development Studies and currently studying master’s degree in sustainable development and livelihoods were I attained so much knowledge on gender issues as most of our gender modules were tailor made to meet the African community gender setup, hence I became more gender sensitive and aware. From a life experience I met a mother who gave birth in the bush in our community because of lack of resources hence the story that motivated me to become a gender champion.

My main objectives are to serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.I work as a constituency officer for Zvimba West for honourable Mp Ziyambi Ziyambi. Community representation is part of my work, through addressing issues affecting society. We also undertake community based projects to facilitate social, economic and political development such as borehole drilling, building schools and mothers’ shelters promoting health and education, we also promote gender projects like internal savings and landings schemes, help entrepreneurs in sewing projects.

Key challenges despite awareness efforts we take to promote gender equality women continue to hold less executive, non-remunerated, unsafe and less paying jobs at council offices and government complex. There is no equal representation of women and men councilors at full council meetings as the number of men outweighs number of female representations.

Championing gender has changed my life to a greater extent, it helps me realize that gender is our day to day phenomenon at home, at work, in public transport in fact gender is everywhere, thus it helps me self-evaluate how I see gender mainstreaming, awareness, sensitivity, equality and equity, this has changed me because issues of gender are interlinked with development, so if we promote gender issues, projects we are as well promoting development of our country.

I have championed gender in my district to the extent of becoming one of the council major stakeholder because of my view, thoughts and the way I live concerning gender as always commented by councillor Wallen Ndava of ward 11, and councillor Edmore Magaya of ward 10 who I closely work with and associate. I can safely say my suggestions and contributions are recommended by many in council meetings because of my status on gender issues

Being a mother and a family head made me to be more into gender issues. My divorce made me believe that gender is not more than anything but just a social construct. In terms of household chores there is equality as I make sure both girls and boys undertake same responsibilities despite their sex.

I quote, “oh my son in law also do the dishes?” said my neighbor Mrs Nyaradzo Tizauone when she saw my grandson doing the dishes in the kitchen.

I drilled a borehole at ward 1 Nyachowe village, completed a teachers house at Nyamangara primary school, provided cement for Zvimba ward 1 community hall toilets, paid fees for 14 students at Mabvure primary, assisted in the construction of a clinic in ward 5, trained clubs for internal savings and landings at ward 5, donated a sewing machine to a community club, I intent to support Kasanze youth centre for it to be attractive providing games, books and balls, drilled a borehole at Mururi primary and provided cement for Mururi Secondary, construction of staff houses at Kemurara clinic and so many other social, economic and political development projects, these projects were least prioritized by my boss but I managed to convince him in order to bring a positive change on gender issues.

I have helped Zvimba rural council to draft up a gender policy for the first time since it got started which is in line with organizational guidelines and regulations on issues to do with gender and sex. We have also managed to setup dates and prioritize campaigns on GBV and also clean up campaigns to protect the environment. Currently I’m also advocating for a draft policy on equal representation of male and female councilors in council seats.

In each and every ward development committee meetings I make sure to advocate people on genders issues to do with stop of violence against women, encouraging them to also own land and properties for them to have access to financial credit lines through collateral in the form of properties and title deeds and lease agreements, thus access to capital boost their entrepreneur businesses. I have also organized awareness campaigns in partnership with ZRDC on GBV.

I have learned to take awareness campaigns to household levels in the form of door to door counselling since issues of GBV are happening in homes and also this approach promotes security in terms of confidentiality and privacy as both the wife and the husband will be open up to share their ideas and thoughts rather than wasting resources conducting public campaigns in which in most cases will be attended by schools kids and men while women are inclined in the private sphere at their homes. I have also learned that the issue of political representation needs to start at national levels and major political positions.

In next steps, my future plans as a gender champion is to promote sustainable environment through giving women projects to do with sustainable farming and renewable energy systems for example intensive and organic farming, solar and wind energy projects. I also plan to end GBV by 95% in my district by 2030 online with SDG 5 and 10.