Zimbabwe: Warren Ndava

Date: July 17, 2018
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” From a father to a women’s Savings Club Organizer”

I am a ward councillor in Zvimba Rural District. I engage much in poverty eradication around my community. I am a life transformer through a money savings club project. Prior to being a councillor, it has always been my dream to help other people. I gave people in my village jobs on my farm so they could sustain their lives. I always wished if one day I could become a councillor so that I will be able to help the less privileged especially women with money so that they can start small projects like horticulture.

I started my gender work before I became a Councillor during my  days as Public Relation Officer at ZISCO Steel Company. I used to treat every person as a human being regardless of his or her sex. I grew up a son to a widow since my father passed on when I was 12 years. I was raised by a single mother who used savings from selling groundnuts and vegetables from her garden to send us to school. I am a proud Public Relation Officer because of my mother’s unconditional love and hard-work. When I retired I was moved when I saw many people in my ward failing to send children to school yet my mother sent me to school under the most difficult circumstances. Their main problem to start such kind of small projects was that they did not have money. I had to campaign for the councillor position so that I could fulfil my wish of helping other people who are under privileged.

My passion is to help women and girls mostly due to my background of being raised by a single mother. Seeing female headed household suffering, poverty being the order of the day I was motivated and saw it wise to come up with a project to circumvent such situations. There were many girls dropping out of school in my ward. Forced and early child, marriages were now being use as a way to bring something to eat on the table. Most of the girls gave up their youth as a result of poverty. This was my driving factor.

As a Councillor, my work involves carrying out needs assessment of my ward and writing motions to council for these needs to addressed by council. For example, there is no clinic in my ward and I wrote a motion for the construction of a clinic in my ward which is under consideration. Other motions include the grading of roads in ward to make them passable. I also wrote a motion for the establishment of a gum-tree plantation which was established in 2016. I also do awareness campaigns on gender based violence, 50:50, and gender equality in general. I do projects in the ward that help youth find employment such as brick making and horticulture. I help people at funerals in form of food and sometimes buying coffins for the departed. I started a Ward 11 Women’s savings Club. In our mother language we call it “mukando” where people come together and contribute money that they use to buy inputs. I gave them inputs to start the project and from the income that they got, they started their money savings clubs. We started the project with inputs to the value of $3000.00. There are also women sewing clubs that I started in ward where women are sewing school uniforms for sell at local schools. I sourced for the sewing machines. Other projects in ward by youth are poultry.

Championing gender has greatly changed my life in many ways. My attitude towards men and women has changed as i see them as equal partners in development work. I now have increased confidence in myself in that when one set a goal it is possible to accomplish it if one has a passion and zeal to do it. My business skills have been improved through training that I receive from my gender focal person who train women in my ward who are doing business as I will be present in training. I am now able to look for donors. At household level, my wife has now full accepted my work and she is no longer jealous seeing me working with other women. On top of that, my children are now helping me with my financial needs on the gender championing work as they are also noticing the positive changes within the community. At policy level, the council has adopted the gender and HIV/AIDS policies as well as action plans.

Living in a patriarchal society is one of the key challenges I faced. It was very difficult for me to preach gender equality to men who stick to their culture. Through 50\50 campaigns it was accepted. Lack of resources was also another obstacle since I was managing a big ward. Through the intervention of my children, it was settled.

In the future, I would like to continue with my development work and take it to greater heights. I wish to create more employment for both women and youth so that they will earn a source of living. I also want to continue with the 50\50 campaigns to attain gender equality by 2030.