Zimbabwe: Melody Chingarande Driver of change

Date: September 7, 2019
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My leadership started from primary school where I became a prefect in grade 5 and head girl in grade 7 at Mupawose primary school in Kadoma. I became a prefect again at secondary level and was in the school debate team. At tertiary level in Mutare Teachers’ College I became the Students Representative Council Secretary General which was a three year term post. It was a hard post to take in a tertiary institution as big as Mutare Teachers’ College with a lot of faculties and a lot of candidates but l won the post. I had a lot of tasks to undertake under this position and had to balance with my studies as well. During my 3 year tenure l would also represent the students academically and non-academically, where decisions would be favourable to the students hence grievances were solved amicably and the school’s objectives would be met which are teaching and learning. I also worked with the department of learners with disability at college, not because the college did not have a Secretary for inclusive education but they had seen and discovered leadership qualities in me. In the non-academic areas and academic areas. I was available to all those students. I represented the whole school without fear or favour especially interacting with the administration and management staff. Theirs was a feared office by the students but I had the courage to represent all the students and their put forward their grievances and action was taken as soon as possible. Studying administration and management and conflict at college it taught and equipped me on problem solving skills.

Part of my objectives are to equip women and girls so that they get equal opportunities with men in all leading roles politically, economically and socially hence women and the girl child can exhibit their expertise. Women can do it, the girl child can do it given equal opportunities and resources, without any fear of victimisation and all types of abuses. Let the nation and the government, provide an equal campaigning platform and opportunities in terms of resources, freedom and protection, because some potential women are failing because of these limitations.

As a councillor I have a responsibility to protect my ward, ensuring services are delivered and giving feedback to the ward as a whole. This has become a very big challenge politically. Not all community people feel free to come to councillor’s feedback meetings. This is due to political atmosphere which is not conducive. Due to traditional, religious and cultural ideologies which give a men superiority complex and women inferiority complex in society. This has left some men in shock when I won the elections hence influencing men and women that they should not participate in anything which is ward based, my winning took a lot by surprise and instead of people accepting the outcome that a WOMAN has won. It came as a blow to most men, the candidates and all their supporters.

This “Patriarchal, Cultural, Traditional Deficiency “belief which has seen men dominate society is still a challenge. Decision making has become hard since most men still believe women are and should always be subordinate and cannot decide or make any decision.

So it’s still a very big challenge to make a decision in my community because I am a woman. In addition to that fear of victimization of the women and the girl child is still a challenge for participation and inclusion in all decision making in society at large hence talent in women and the girl child is suppressed and shall go unnoticed if the advocacy and lobbying for woman inclusion is not taken as a state of emergency by the nation at large. The 50-50 and quota system should be advocated for at local government level.

Women tend to vote for men and still have that “pull her down syndrome”. A few women are confident about themselves. This effects low participation on programs aligned for the ward on women or even absent themselves or just withdraw unexpectedly or rally behind a male candidate at yet expense of a woman. Thus male dominance shall continue. Also the main factor is most women are not knowledgeable and fear doing things wrong.

Sometimes some parents prefer to educate the boy child since they assume that the girl child would on one of the days the days marry and leave her paternal parents’ home hence the parents would get nothing out of their fees paid for the girl child.

 Personally I have been equipped, groomed, empowered politically and socially. Have also been motivated by my mother. She did a great job in driving me and giving me strength to keep on pursuing my goal of changing the society in terms of women participation in all activities hence improving the development of the ward and improving women and girl child’s life. My town clerk encouraged me to be an achiever and courageous women in position.

Mr Nyamadzawo outgoing senior councillor for two terms and teacher by profession and Mr Peter Gore a prominent businessman commented that “We did not think she could represent our ward so well, we doubted her”. I have the respect of my neighbours through my hard work.

There is a noticeable level of changes in terms of organisational policies. As a body of councillors we agreed to have a human resources committee to look at our policies and we have changed some of the 1930 updated bylaws which are still being amended for the betterment of service delivery. One of the outdated bylaws that we changed was that councillors were not allowed to build secondary schools. It was a hindrance to education sector where a lot of our learners are on hot sitting and travel long distances to and from school. It was also after looking at the girl child. Looking at the girl child after doing all household chores, walks to school. It contributes to less concentration. Also we made a resolutions as we are yet to get land allocated from the council to start the project thereby lessening the burden of travelling long distances to school with hot sitting.

There is a program already underway which has been put in place in Mbizo section were a school is already under construction. It has 2 blocks which are awaiting final finish ups hence easing and lessening the distance and burden to a girl child and boy child. Not only that we have lobbied and advocated for secondary school building which was not a local government s mandate, we have also lobbied in our policies to be allowed by the government to build secondary schools to counter all glues problems.

There is a school with a plan already underway to be constructed in our community as Mbizo. 1930 bylaws are being changed and allowing councils to build secondary schools hence lessening the distance and the girl child underachievement is improved, ,

Hot sittings are limited, and the teacher to child ratio is improved greatly hence one on one of the teacher to child is also improved and it becomes a vehicle to child a academic and non a academic achievement hence the teaching and learning goals and objectives are greatly achievement

A lot of lessons have been learned namely:

Team building, negotiating skills, value debate skills, decision making skills and conflict management. So these skills we are working towards achieving our goals as an organisation and not only within the organisation but in the community as well.

Going forward in envisage creating a continuous community based program which shall, work with the women and girl child in terms of decision making, capacity building programs, and participation in socioeconomic, politico – programs and take up leading roles. The girl could to be empowered in decision making stand for their rights without fear of victimisation. Take up leading roles not subordinate roles, lobby and advocacy campaign programs on women participation. Support all women vying for leadership role politically and socially.