Zimbabwe: Loice Marongere

Zimbabwe: Loice Marongere

Date: May 12, 2021
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I was blank on Gender mainstreaming issues especially with service delivery until I met Gender Links when I was enlightened on the subject. I undertook including situational analysis and sex disaggregated data something which was not being implemented by our organisation.

I was appointed as the Gender Focal Person for Buhera Rural District Council in 2016.  My appointment came as an eye opener to some workplace gender issues relating to service delivery, and its link to gender.  Buhera Rural District Council is a local authority created by an Act of Parliament to administer the activities of the inhabitants of a local nature at a local level.  The Act provides sixty four (64) functions which the Rural District Council is mandated to perform within its area of jurisdiction. Our Council joined Gender Links as a Centre of Excellence (COE) in 2016.

“Gender Links has transformed my life and to the district there has been a great change”.  Before meeting with Gender Links “I used to take gender issues lightly and I also thought they were issues to do with women only but after the training I got a different view of gender”. Council was blind to gender service delivery. Most policies, programmes and activities were gender blind. Some have since become gender sensitive. The pieces of training I received from Gender Links, contributed to my election to the position of District Gender Council Chairperson in the District Gender Committee.  The Committee is responsible for implementing gender activities including Gender Based Violence (GBV) programmes in the district.  During my term of office as the Chairperson we constructed a Safe Shelter and One Stop Centre at Murambinda Growth Point to assist survivors of gender-based violence.

Personally, I gained more experience on gender in local government after attending several gender mainstreaming workshops coordinated by Gender Links.  I realised the importance of mainstreaming gender. One of the areas which I grew interest in was people living with disability.  This is often neglected in development. I am now looking at things with a gender lens and I now have passion for gender issues. I also benefited from the Sunrise Campaign programme training on business development and entrepreneurship which gave me information on how to become an entrepreneur. I also received training on Gender budgeting and as a positive outcome, our council has set aside a budget for assisting survivors of gender-based violence through a revolving fund to start business.

I have more knowledge on legislative provisions for gender and I am also appraised with current gender statistics that aid in decision making for gender programmes.  I feel there is still a lot to be done for Zimbabwe to attain of gender parity.  It is my dream to see a 50/50 equality in positions of decision making at the local level as this will improve our policies on service delivery, recruitment, and selection. The SADC Protocol@Work summit, gave me confidence to make presentations and conduct trainings. I am indebted to Gender Links for the training as I am now equipped with skills, knowledge, and information on gender issues.

Currently I am developing a District Gender Policy which will assist in recruiting Ward Gender Focal persons to assist in dealing with gender issues at ward level. They will report to the District Gender Focal Person.  Also plans for involvement of Junior Councillors in all Council Committee meetings through their structures had been initiated.  As a Gender Focal Person it is my duty to coordinate all gender activities in the district in coordination with Ministry of Women Affairs and other relevant stakeholders.  Buhera Rural District Council is humbly honoured to be the current Hub in Manicaland for the Spokes and Hub programme. My other achievement was when I won the second run up award at the SADC summit in 2016 since it was my first time to join Gender Links it really motivated me.

The council now has Departmental Gender Focal persons.  Buhera Rural District Council recruitment policy is now gender sensitive as evidenced by the phrase “Buhera Rural District Council is an equal opportunity and female candidates are encouraged to apply” each time an advert is posted. At management we now have a balance in numbers as the Heads of Department it is 50/50.  In the community most women now carry decision making positions in Ward Development Planning committees. I have noticed that men and women need further training on gender issues for them to have a better understanding and appreciation.

Some of the challenges being faced include low numbers of female councillors in the Council Chambers.  Lack of capacity building for Junior Councillors due to financial challenges.  There are insufficient financial resources to carry outreach programmes. In terms of Local Economic Development (LED), no women suppliers owned that can supply council with goods and services since most are not registered. However, a LED programme was initiated by CLGF and Gender Links and a programme for business revival to build the capacity of women in Local Economic Development (LED). Most women were lagging in decision making position from the community due to lack of confidence and information. There is a need for constant trainings and awareness campaigns.

In conclusion I greatly appreciate the good work being done by Gender Links in addressing gender issues and urge the organisation to continue with the good work they are doing and hope one day we will achieve our gender goals especially in addressing the gender imbalances.