Resta Dzvinyangoma – Murehwa Rural District Council COE

Date: July 13, 2018
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“Empower a woman and the whole nation is empowered.”

I am a school dropout due to cultural beliefs that a woman should not proceed up to secondary school and educating a girl is a waste of money. I worked as a shopkeeper at my fathers’ shop but there was not even a day he showed me appreciation. He demanded that I should take care of his store while my young brothers were proceeding with their education. This situation forced me into an early marriage with a man who was much older than me and I got pregnant by him. I thought marriage was going to be a solution to my problems but it worsened.

I was forced to join politics as a youth although I was married. In 1997, I became the youth secretary. By 1998 I was the chairperson of Gidiratonga branch. In 1999 I became the youth treasurer for Jongwe district. From 2001 to date I am the district secretary for Jongwe district. When I became chairperson in 1998 that is when I paved my way for gender work. My colleagues and I came up with different women’s clubs that became a platform for discussing our issues and how to raise our voices as women. The community gained confidence in me and I was elected the first female councillor for my ward and the second in my council (Murewa Rural District Council). This sounded very funny to some of my male counterparts but instead of losing vision or focus, I stood my ground.

I had a passion for empowering women so that they will not be able to experience the same challenges I have faced my past life. As a female councillor who experienced the patriarchal system, my first priority was to change the mindset of the community as a way of achieving the gender balance through ward meetings, community dialogues, sensitization meetings and commemorations. I managed this through an integrated stakeholders approach.

In my work, I engaged both women and men regardless of their political affiliations and beliefs. Prior to that, men used to spend most of their times drinking beer, playing cards and draft (tsoro) in the village where they would marry off their girl children to patrons at the gatherings. These girl children had no one to fight for them. No voice was there to pave their way to freedom. They lacked knowledge and this resulted in forced marriages, poverty, school dropouts, divorces and all forms of Gender-Based Violence. To mitigate such situations, I facilitated women’s economic empowerment in the form of sustainable projects, education and health programs among other social sustainable developments.

As a councillor, I equip both men and women with knowledge about gender through community dialogues, sensitization meeting, political forums, ward meetings and other platforms using information from the Zimbabwe constitution, SADC protocol on gender and development, National Gender policy among other statutory instruments, although some men are still resistant to the 50/50 issue. I empower women with resources to start their economic projects e.g. horticulture and goat rearing. I processed the establishment and construction of a new secondary school (Chenhuta) as a way of increasing pass rates and reducing all forms of abuses to the girl child, although some parents are not sending their daughters to school. I advocated for the construction of Madamombe police post so the society can report issues like gender-based violence, sexual abuse among others. I also take part in the community management of boreholes in all villages, clinics and schools. I also make sure that all the disadvantaged children obtain birth certificates and identity cards for their future recognition as citizens of Zimbabwe.

Championing gender has made a huge difference in my life. There has been a huge transformation from personal, household and community level. I have managed to change my husband’s mind and all my children both boys and girls are school goers. As a gender champion, I also have managed to change the patriarchal minds of the society that even a woman can change the world. It’s not only men that have constructive ideas. There has been a great improvement in alleviating poverty in households. Women were equipped with resources to start small projects to earn a living. I have advocated that education should be open for every girl child and this has decreased early child marriages. Now that women are empowered with both economic and social projects, levels of gender-based violence decreased. I pray to God to continue giving me strength so that I can be able to keep on assisting survivors of gender-based violence, lobby for a women’s quarter at the local level and continue having routine awareness programmes on gender issues so that I will be able to assist more people in the future. I believe I can do it. I believe I can change lives.