Zimbabwe – Shylette Dzivai

Date: July 6, 2018
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“Nothing is impossible as long as you are committed and determined to achieve.”

I qualify to be a Driver of Change because as a budding young women’s leader, despite being suppressed and sabotaged by fellow female counterparts in leadership. I did not despair or lose hope, but rather I took my first-hand experience as a learning curve and used that to motivate other female colleagues not to give up. I have encouraged them to reach for the stars, hence I have become their role model. My former secretary at Kadoma City through my encouragement rose to become a Member of Parliament, even though she passed on last year. My advice to fellow women has always been that nothing is impossible as long as you have the will to succeed.

I am a development practitioner by training with a background of sociology and development studies. My involvement in gender work dates back to the years when I was a Social Welfare Officer with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare from 2004 to 2010. My work was focused on child welfare, the elderly, juvenile delinquents and people living with disability. I managed to retain custody of minor children with their mothers or fathers depending on the circumstances. At one point I gave custody to a father as he proved to be a better parent. I also managed to reintegrate a street kid with his relatives, and I had him rehabilitated and started vocational training. For this effort, I got a commendation letter from our Head Office for well written probation officers report.

I work as the Director of Health, Housing and Community Services. For housing I am responsible for initiating, recommending and implementing policies and programmes for the development of decent and affordable housing in Chegutu. This entails coming up with policies that cut across all sectors of society but more pro-poor policies. I also have to see to it that the interests of vulnerable women, children and people living with disability are taken care of. For example, I request women whose husbands intend to sale their matrimonial home without their knowledge to file affidavits blocking sale without their knowledge. In that way we safeguard their interests.

Some of the challenges I have faced as a gender champion is that most women lack academic qualifications that are crucial as minimum requirements for job applications. Some are elderly women almost nearing retirement age and have no enthusiasm to further studies. Besides the qualifications, some lack exposure and experience in the applied jobs hence often fail to impress interview panel.

I have come to realise that there is nothing impossible to accomplish in life regardless of gender as long as you are committed to achieve. The ambition to achieve has landed me the Director Post. The trainings and workshops undertaken through Gender Links have made this possible. Summits have given me a marketing platform of my potential to various stakeholders.

Championing gender equality has made me realise that not all of us are academically gifted and therefore we need to assist each other according to our potentials. I had to give my sister in law $200 to start her soft loan business. She is a good marketer and has been able to get some profit from her trade. This has actually led to improved relations with the husband as she now can afford to buy her cosmetics, jewellery and meet other personal demands such as toiletries, clothing for her child without troubling her unemployed husband. Empowering a woman empowers the whole nation.

I am what I am because of the Gender Links program and as such I will continue promoting and defending gender mainstreaming in all spheres of life. Personally, I would want to pursue PhD studies in Development as well set up a development consultancy agency. If I continue in local government then my next port of call is the accounting officer’s post as a Town Clerk. My desire is to continue to impact positively on people’s lives regardless of age and gender. At institutional level I would like to provide mentorship to fellow female workmates to further their studies and realise their full potential.