Zimbabwe: Nancy Mbaura: Driver of Change

Date: August 30, 2019
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Nancy Mbaura is a holder of a BSc Women & Gender Studies from the Women University in Africa (WUA) and a Zimbabwean, philanthropist and gender activist. She was born at the height of Zimbabwe’s First Chimurenga/Umvukela liberation struggle against British colonialism on November 11th 1974, at Chegutu Hospital in the province of Mashonaland West. At the age of seven in 1981, she enrolled at Chiedza Primary School in Katanga, Norton, where she commenced her grade one classes and passed her first five years of primary education before proceeding in 1985, to Belgon Farm in Mazowe in the Mashonaland Central province. It was here at Belgon Primary School that she later completed her grade seven. She now lives in Twinlakes, which is one of Norton high income suburbs. She is a single mother raising three beautiful girls, Wadzanai, Prudence and Lina. She is the founder of Tamiranashe Trust and several other nonprofit making organisations. Tamiranashe Trust is a multi-purpose charitable organisation working with women and vulnerable children. Apparently she has set-up imbabwe’s first pro-poor schools. She has over two thousand pupils benefiting from her initiative while to date she has trained more than three thousand women in income generating projects and driving through her Women’s College and Gender Development Basket community programmes.

Nancy is the second born in a family of four. When her father, Thomson Mbaura, was arrested and imprisoned, her mother, Lina Rufe Mbaura subsequently fell ill and Nancy soon assumed the family role of breadwinner. Her family became girl-child headed. At this time they were living in a family house in Katanga, Norton. This role she undertook from a tender age of nine years up to the time she completed her primary school at Belgon Farm in Mazowe.

Nancy’s goal is to build the capacity of widows, help vulnerable women and orphans to stand together for their rights and to actively contribute to civil society, governance and leadership in Zimbabwe and Africa. She also wants to harness the potential of widows, orphans and vulnerable segment of society to enable them to become productive citizens through advocacy, capacity building, economic empowerment and human rights programs.

She has over 5 years of experience in OVC programming and has managed various OVC focused donor projects across 5 districts. Through these projects, the organisation has reached 5000 males and 9000 female vulnerable beneficiaries encompassing orphans. Tamiranashe Widows and Orphans Empowerment Organisation advocates for the rights of orphans and widows with the aim to reduce the socio economic and cultural barriers that they face and advocates to government to make orphans and vulnerable children issue visible in national budgetary plans and allocation as well as put in place mechanisms to ensure the appropriate utilisation of allocated funds. Our organisation through household economic strengthening activities works with vulnerable households to improve their livelihood and increase their financial resilience. The organisation strives to make high quality health care accessible to vulnerable households. Widows and Orphans Empowerment Organisation health education programmes cover not only HIV and AIDS but nutrition and sanitation, comprehensive sexual and health reproductive education for youth  Widows and Orphans Empowerment Organisation capacity building approach is one that seeks to improve organisation as well as systems and structures at community and capacity building approach is one that seeks to improve organizational and technical capacity of community based organisations as well as systems and structures at community and Local Government levels with the aim to quality care for orphans and vulnerable children and their households.

We are contributing to quality orphans and vulnerable children programming in Zimbabwe through research. One of such is OVC Baseline Study in Norton Constituency carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Health that highlighted the high burden of OVC and their needs in the 13 wards as well as factors that drive vulnerability as well as strategies for addressing such needs.
Tamiranashe integrates gender into design, implementation and evaluation of all its project to improve outcomes and increase equality among girls, boys, women and men. Our gender sensitive programming include effective gender intervention strategies that transform unequal norms and behaviour, empower women and girls and engage men and boys at the community as partners and agents of progressive norms and behaviours that leads to social change.
Gender focus
•Responding to gender based violence.
•Economic development and livelihoods.
•Child protection and gender.
•Adolescent girls education.
•Engaging men and boys.

In conducting her duties, Nancy faced some challenges like patriarchal dominance that affected the team’s mission, religious impediments, lack of basic education and exposure among women and the girl child, lack of continuous skills development, lack of proper remuneration for staff and the need for administrative resources like furniture, stationery, literature among others.

“She managed to link with other gender activists around Zimbabwe who are her role models. Gender equality programs have also helped her to understand the plight of women and have been thus hardened in the process especially as she has been working with men who in most cases are adamant. She had the opportunity to fill the needs gap in society and this has also forced her to further her education.”  Furthermore Gutsa Norton Town Council Gender Focal Person.

“Nancy Mbaura is one of the few women in Zimbabwe who has dared the odds and nothing in her quest to fight for gender equality in this country has hindered her from reaching for the best…”Change at the household levelIn championing gender equality NANCY has not only changed herself but most importantly has influenced those dear and near to her to join her war for gender equality. Her ex-husband Mr Mungwari has also joined the band wagon and is helping Nancy with work at one of her pro-poor primary schools in Norton Zimbabwe. Her other daughter Wadzanai Mungwari has also become a voice to reckon with in the gender equality circles as she has also joined her mother to influence young girls to fight for women rights and economic emancipation.” Proud Hamandawana, Mainlock Construction and Borehole Drilling director.

Women’s University in Africa vice chancellor Prof. Hope Sadza cherish the work that was done by Nancy Mbaura. “she has made many households in my community of Norton to respect gender equality. In a community where women used to be idle now, many of them are now doing entrepreneurial projects ranging from baking, hair dressing, poultry and driving. This has made life easier and more bearable for women who used to be down-trodden and disenfranchised. Many women in my community have been economically strengthened while their mindsets have been fully armed to defend women’s rights.” She went on to say that “as founder of Women University in Afrcia, I cannot hesitate to comment that Nancy Mbaura is a young woman of steel who was equipped through my university and can be a change agent knowing her versatility in fighting for gender equality. She was a strong student and her time spent at WUA was difficult days as she had no money and resources to adequately meet her financial needs. She is one of the few female students who refused to be brought back by economic hardships. I understand that she has a family and was also single-handedly raising children from her other relatives who need a roof over their heads. I’m confident that Nancy will be a great agent for change among womenfolk in Africa. She has demonstrated great zeal and tenacity especially during her stay on campus. Many other young girls continue to be inspired by Nancy’s influence. Gender equality is a war we must all fight and we will win at the very end especially when the men become a part of our struggle. My prayer is that Nancy finds more hands to support her cause.”

Nancy’s organisation managed to do several policy shifts within its sphere of influence. The organisation managed to initiate the following programs which were aimed at promoting policy shift within the community:

  • Back to school program which promoted women who had not had the chance to get a basic education to go back to school.
  • Women Driver’s licence facility which helped more that 6 000 women to get drivers’ licences.
  • Skills Training for women economic strengthening which enhanced women’s capacity to become economically independent and sent their children through school.
  • Girl-child back to school program enable thousands of children who had been deprived of their right to basic education to finally go to school

Through the organisation’s gender equality campaign they managed to influence policy changes within Norton Town Council local authority. The local authority which used to be insensitive to Gender equality issues suddenly became a vibrant stronghold for women empowerment and development. They also managed to influence the late Dr Oliver Mtukudzi to sing about the girl-child and early marriages. Her Pakare Paye Arts Centre is now employing more women and girls. The same has also happened with the business community in Norton.

“As the founder and director of a local online media portal called the Norton Post, I’m here to testify that Nancy Mbaura has been a great influence in shaping our orgnisation’s editorial policy. As a local online media portal, we have covered more women issues that never before. Through Nancy we were able to realise that gender equality was a war we the media had to take part in. Our organization has covered more women issues covering Gender Equality matters and we continue to do that so that we are a part of the band wagon fighting gender equality matters. We have covered news on women from the grassroots and those high profile levels. We are confident that Nancy has the capacity to even influence media houses so that they come up with in house policies that have a gender equality mainstreaming component.” Maxwell Teedzai, The Norton Post Founder/Director.

Mbaura participated in several capacity building initiatives ranging from baking for women entrepreneurs, Women Driving Trainer’s certificate, entrepreneurship training by Gender Links,  WILSA Certificate on Will Writing, Msasa Project Certificate in Counselling, Old Mutual Certificate in Finances and Accounting to ZWLA Certificate in Women and Law.

Mbaura successfully transferred the skills she acquired to other women through equipping them with skills to bake home-made bread using traditional non-electrical ovens, helping other women with inheritance issues and assist in budgeting, saving and investing money for economic strengthening. She also helped in counselling gender based violence victims and establishing rotational credit schemes (mikando). She also acquired a driver training certificate and she trained women to become drivers. Lastly, she is also helping women in writing wills. Mbaura’s prayer is to get money to purchase at least 16 hectares of land so that she can build Zimbabwe’s first pro-poor primary and secondary schools. “We have received a $2.5million offer for land here in Norton and we are still looking for partners who can give us money to purchase it. My hope is that by God’s grace we will do it.”