Zimbabwe :Idirashe Dongo

Zimbabwe :Idirashe Dongo

Date: May 14, 2021
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Apart from being a Rural District Councillor, resettled farmers coming from a lot of poverty, who are moving from hereby congested areas, coming to “minda mirefu”, a more spacious land to earn a living from farming.  This is a Councillor breaking stereotypes, the 1st Female Councillor in that ward.  Her being a young woman in her early 40s in a community of mostly men with war credentials the war veterans, but managed to work closely with the old, young women, and young girls.  As a community leader, she has managed to identify the most vulnerable young girls since the ward had no secondary school at all.  Therefore most girls have not been able to proceed to secondary school to get education that then enable them to be competitive with others in working spaces.

In resettlement, infrastructure is still so limited therefore her priority, having identified the most factor affecting girls, was to construct the 1st Secondary School which is affordable to many girls a block of 4 classes which is now at roof level.

Since time of inception in the office of a Councillor of ward 30 under Redcliff Constituency in Zimbabwe as a first timer.  Gender links has become of great value in the good execution of her duties as a Women Councillor because of many capacity building workshops that opened the mind and eyes of simple villagers elected into office having no knowledge at all on issues like, communication, team building, budget, financial planning, visibility, capacity building, leadership skills in women politicians debates for public hearings on amendments of bills equality for women and youth.

My passion for young girls and young women as a person comes from my own background.  I had my child 1st child from an unwanted pregnancy.  I happen to meet a man who managed to lie to me that he was not married.  The resentment l got from my own parents was unbearable because in our family it was a taboo to be impregnated before marriage.  I at one time contemplating suicide, since the man had now neglected me and my pregnancy and my parents also wanted me to go to the owner of the pregnancy.  I was caught in a very bad situation at the age of 20 years.  But the Lord kept me, and the fact that l was already employed, this is why l am so much passionate in working with girls and young adults (women).  Awareness of the disadvantages of engaging in early sexual activities and encouraging second chance education to young adults who would have been distributed/ disrupted by these issues of pregnancy whilst at school.  It is my wish to see the victims of unwanted pregnancy, rise up, get education, get to be useful in communities, being elected in influential positions of communities, as l am now a Councillor, a Chairperson of a Committee of Gender at our Council working in 33 wards on Gender issues now being also the Chairperson of the Midlands Province women in Local Government.  Thereby seating in the National Executive of women in Local Government.

The Women in Local Government Forum (WLGF) managed to organize the 1st Women Councillors Indaba with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Cde E.D. Mnangagwa.  I presented the National women in Local Government from position papers, seeking to have numbers of women in Local Government be increased since it is currently sitting at 14% , that is to say of the 1958 Councillors from the 92 local authorities in Zimbabwe only 214 are women,  what a sad thing.

As WLGF, we took it upon our views and our partner Gender links, to hold Provincial consultations to come up with a position paper to submit as the amendment of bill No. 2 of the Zimbabwe Constitution which addresses the issue of equality.  And when the position paper was not considered, yet we felt was crucial to have women increase their numbers to have their voices heard.  If a critical mass is attained thus the request to meet up with his Excellency who then gave a nod to the WLGF request to have a 30% quota system at local government Councils, a milestone achievement.  The plight of the girl child has made us to go and the District doing campaign of Gender Based Violence, Domestic Based Violence. Child marriages, second chance Education SRHR, 50/50 campaigns to promote girl child.

Gender Links has enabled these campaigns in financial and material support.  Through capacity building, workshops, the campaigns had an impact coming from a District with the worst hit with child marriages during the lock down.  Periods due to the pandemic COVID-19 virus vigorous companies enabled to reach out to the most vulnerable, that is the girl child affected and the family too.  Together with the Zibagwe Rural District Council Junior Councillors we have achieved a milestone in awareness campaigns on child marriages.

Gender links has connected me with the media for visibility.  A workshop arranged of women’s participation in politics in reference to their visibility through media positively articulate the importance of media in advancing participation of Women in politics.  Unlike before, the media has now started producing good stories that even motivates other women out there to come aboard.  I have been approached by women from church, general public wanting advice on how to join politics in Leadership.

I also have witnessed that women at grassroots level are now taking up influential positions in school committees, dip tank committees, development committees.  Before visibility of women leaders through media most women felt safe to take up very low key positions in these committees but now we see them occupying the positions of Chairpersons.  I feel so proud to have been an inspiration to my own local women.  It is my desire that more women councillors approach the issue of media with positivity as the error we are now, people spent most of their time on social news such as TV newspapers, so when media takes up a position to broadcast women and their achievements and aspirations it will motivate more women to participate and taking up influential positions in communities.