Zimbabwe – Owen Gwasira

Date: September 6, 2018
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“The regional summit was a time to learn a lot and this exposure had a long lasting impact on my life.”

The gender focal person for Chiredzi Town Council, Owen Gwasira will never forget the day he won the Gender Based Violence (GBV) award at the 2012 summit that made him to proceed to South Africa for the Regional Summit.

“I was very excited to fly to South Africa. It was my first time to travel using an aeroplane. I extend my warmest and heartfelt gratitude to Gender Links Country manager, Priscilla Maposa for she is the one who made this possible,” said Gwasira.

Gwasira appreciated networking with other regional participants some of whom he is still in contact with. He said that he met CEOs from various countries thereby gaining a lot through this experience. The beneficiary said that the regional summit was a time to learn a lot and this exposure had a long lasting impact on him. Through networking he said that they exchanged business cards and other essential information.

The beneficiary went on to outline the training that he underwent. He stated that through that training process he is now a transformed person. The vast experience which he said had managed to acquire has enabled him to be continuously and tirelessly involved in community related activities. He pointed out his role in empowering women through assisting them in establishing flea markets as one of his achievements. He added that his move to empower women had a very positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged members of society and it gave many women an urge to keep on developing themselves.

Gwasira was also involved in numerous trainings to empower women so as to make them equal partners in the economic and wealth making process. The situation reduced the dependency syndrome among women. Through training of entrepreneurship skills, he has imparted essential skills so as to enable others to acquire residential stands. He said that he is part of an audit and housing team and he works hand in glove with the Human Resources team in giving reports on empowering women. He came up with a motivating motto which goes, “Empowering Women, a Must for Growth.”

Through his efforts as a member of the audit team, he has ensured that the audit systems are in order. There is now undisputed evidence of good governance. There is assurance of worker protection through fair labour practices. The council employees such as Councillors, Town Clerk and others are contented as there is a good rapport at the workplace. This has in turn effectively created a friendly working environment which is crucial for developments. There are risk management structures as well as good employer representation through the Town Council.

On a personal level, Gwasira has developed good working relations with others. He achieved this through emphasising emotional and physical gender based violence scenarios. Being an empathetic has enabled him to develop relevant skills to assist, relate and associate with everyone regardless of their social standing. Such cordial relations have given him a lot of credit from almost everyone as they have gained trust in him. What makes Gwasira easy to relate with is his ability to create a workable travelling schedule which enables him to improve networking with various people from different social standings.

The beneficiary’s efforts have succeeded in changing the traditional mindset towards women. Attitudes towards women have now greatly changed for the better in many ways as people now readily accept and understand the concept of gender equity and fair practices by many. Gwasira believes that he has been greatly inspired by Priscilla Maposa who is on the surface soft facially but has proved to be a tough driver of change at the workplace. He now believes in fair representation and fair labour practices.

Gwasira highlighted the various skills that he has acquired over the years which include mentoring various groups. He also has essential skills of coordinating activities and functions. He has the agile ability to effectively present and address large crowds. Among other skills he can effectively mobilise large crowds and inspire deep confidence in them. He also gives credit to Bernadette Chipembere a former local councillor, whom the former said was the one who identified him. Chipembere is an influential, passionate and renowned member of the Musasa Children’s Court. She is currently stationed at Chiredzi Police Station. Owen indicated that Chipembere identified his potential and nurtured his talent. He is what he is now because of her.

The beneficiary has also been a powerful influence to change policies such as residential stands allocation practices. He has immensely contributed to fair allocation of stands regardless of people’s social standing or influence. This has been achieved through surveys, response forms, reports, research files and instilling confidence. Through such efforts, people have developed lots of faith and trust in the local authority. Gwasira gives great

gratitude to Gender Links for making this a success, without which it would have been otherwise.

Gwasira highlighted that despite the achievements, there are still challenges being faced. The major one is that there is a general perception that gender is for females. He stressed that people still lack insight on the concept of gender leading to misunderstandings of the whole point of gender. He reiterated that initially gender mainstreaming was difficult to implement.

In his final statements, Gwasira made known his future plans. These include sustainable ways to help gender based violence survivors, the need to monitor gender based violence plans and report timely developments. He said that such efforts will instil more positive attitudes and canvas increased support for gender based violence survivors to be able to integrate them into a just society. He feels there is need for Junior Councils to be involved in almost all the council activities to bring more impact to gender mainstreaming. He concluded by saying that gender committees have to be on a rotational basis so as to enable all aspiring suitable candidates to be elected and push for gender equality.