Learning Journey: Navigating the learning expedition

Learning Journey: Navigating the learning expedition

Date: April 2, 2020
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“Competing is exciting and winning is exhilarating, but the true prize will always be the self-knowledge and understanding that you gained along the way.” – Sebastian Coe.

The year 2019 made me introspect into my life and my mind was seized by several achievements that justified a decade long journey with Gender Links (GL). My mind effortlessly combined big and small lessons gathered throughout the journey and made me view the 10-year voyage with satisfaction. I can rightfully say that great lessons that shaped who I am today were not picked from a silver platter but they came through resolute attention to detail, commitment, resilience, hard work and application of lessons learnt. The 10 years of navigating the journey of gender equality with GL and other partners is worth celebrating.

I joined GL in 2009 and during that time I was working from my home office. Through guidance and good leadership skills from the Chief Executive Officer of GL, Colleen Lowe Morna, I managed to establish a fully-fledged office that grew with time to become a driver of gender mainstreaming in local authorities in Zimbabwe. Many thanks to the Embassy of Sweden in Zimbabwe for making this dream a success. I converted some mistakes I made during the initial stages of the journey into lessons that saw GL programmes winning buy-in from key stakeholders that include the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and the Zimbabwe Local Government Association.

2010 is the year that GL started working with 10 local authorities through the Centres of Excellence (COE) programme on gender mainstreaming in local government.  2019 set a platform for multiple celebrations, that is, a decade of hard work, commitment, intense learning, implementation and rolling out of the gender mainstreaming programme to all 92 councils in Zimbabwe. Consequently, the evaluation of the COE programme in Zimbabwe resulted in the implementation of the hub and spoke programme dubbed the Dura/Isiphala programme that saw councils taking ownership of the gender mainstreaming initiative. A handbook with my name on it was developed to guide the implementation of the programme hub and spoke programme. This is the second publication I have co-authored during my journey with GL. I successfully managed the hub and spoke programme and it became a flare that drew regional attention. The result was a study visit that saw GL country offices from across the SADC region coming to Zimbabwe to learn and replicate the hub and spoke programme. I derived a great lesson that direct or indirect beneficiaries must take ownership of the programme to ensure sustainability. Many thanks to the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works for making the COE programme the ‘programme of choice’ on gender mainstreaming at the local level

All the achievements appearing on my profile were derived from resolute fundraising, partner management, strategic planning, teamwork and human resources management skills. The journey was not all rosy but it witnessed intermittent mistakes which I successfully turned into lessons. 2019 bears testimony to the application of fundraising and donor management skills that enabled Zimbabwe office to self-fund programme work with complementary help from head office.

As the Zimbabwe Country Manager, I continue to nature existing partnerships and establish new ones. These partnerships with funding partners, government departments, civil society organisations and local authorities have immensely contributed to my learning. They have also exposed me to further management and strategic planning skills that strengthened coordination arrangements. The partnership with the Women in Local Government Forum and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works helped us to accomplish the most challenging task of uniting women with differing political views for a common goal. The greatest lesson that came out of working with women in local government is conflict management. I intend to continue applying this skill in my work until all women are united for a common goal regardless of their religious or political affiliation. The partnerships with International Centre for  Local Democracy ( ICLD) and Common Wealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) further strengthened the local government work. My coordination skills were sharpened.

Professionally I managed to achieve a lot in 2019 but that cannot be translated to mean that there were no mistakes. At a personal level, I have made a fair share of mistakes, although I no longer call them mistakes because I accepted them as lessons that anchored my success in 2019. Lastly, I no longer fear mistakes because they are the greatest obstacle to success.

Through working with GL I perfected an array of skills ranging from fundraising, partner management, strategic planning (developing annual plans and budgets), human resources management, and programme management. I feel indebted to GL because my 10 years with the organisation drastically changed my professional and personal life. I will continue using the professional and personal skills I acquired for the benefit of the organisation and society at large.

I want to thank the CEO of Gender Links Mme Colleen Lowe Morna for her unwavering support and guidance to me and to the Zimbabwe office. I have always worked directly with her since I joined Gender Links and I have learnt a lot from her. I also want to thank her for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to write publications about our local government work. I am  now a co-author of two publications.

I also want to thank all Head Office managers including  Sifiso Dube my former manager for the support they have given me throughout my journey with GL. To my manager Susan Tolmay, thank you for giving me the opportunity to embark on this journey with GL and for tolerating my shortcomings back then. It feels great taking you through the fruits of the foundation you laid on gender mainstreaming work in Zimbabwe.

To all the partners, thank you for your continued support to the Zimbabwe office.

Lastly to the Zimbabwe Office team (the winning team), I owe you a lot. I could not have witnessed all the success stories without your support. You remain a pillar of strength and may we continue holding on to the team spirit. Together we stand, divided we fall.

Priscilla Maposa, Gender Links Zimbabwe Country Manager.

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