Learning comes through reflection

Learning comes through reflection

Date: April 14, 2019
  • SHARE:

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”– Thomas A. Edison

Life as we all know is a journey. A journey filled with challenges and how you overcome them, victories (no matter how big or small it’s still a Win) and well for me life is what you make it. I sit here reminiscing on my time at Gender Links (GL), I can safely say this is my home away from home. Having spent most of my career here, I have gone through all the emotions one can experience: joy, laughter and pain (that too heals) I still have a moment to reflect on what I have learnt in the past year. I am not really the type of person that shows their emotions. You have to be a genius to get me to do that.

2018 was probably one year that was filled with a lot of expectation for me and I guess well most if not all Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe was going to have its first election after the deposition of former President Robert Mugabe. As the election drew closer I realized that all the work we had put in advocacy and 50-50 campaigns in order to push for an increase in the proportion of women in local government was all in vain. Prior to the election the statistics indicated that at best the representation of women in local government would remain the same otherwise we were headed for another loss. With the help of the chief executive officer, Colleen Lowe-Morna we published an article entitled “Women the biggest losers in Zim election”. The election came and went. Women were nowhere to be found, especially in local government. Their representation declined from 16% to 14%. At the back of my mind were so many questions. Maybe one day they will be answered, maybe not, but my wish is that one day Zimbabwe will get to a point where women and men are at par in all decision making positions.

The aftermath of the election saw us taking over an assignment of analyzing the election results. Data analysis is one of my favourite tasks. The data analysis helped the office to produce a gendered report on the analysis of the 2018 election and an infographic highlighting these results. This has to be the most exciting activities I did in 2018. Though exciting, it left me with more questions on how to increase the proportion of women in local government. 2018 also happened to be a year where the organization shifted its programming focus to new areas, in particular Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). To be honest this was all unfamiliar territory (still is). This saw us working with local authorities to see how they integrate SRHR into policy. The capacity building sessions proved to be learning sessions for me. I am no expert in SRHR but learning is always an important step in one’s life. Local authorities are well ahead of what we envisaged as they are by right service delivery institutions. I learnt more than they did. It was liberating to have content delivered to me.

Another highlight for me was the 2018 summit. After having had the last summit in 2016, it was exciting to have one once more. The summit provided an opportunity for the office to collect best practices in gender mainstreaming from all the local authorities in the GL Centres of Excellence (COE) programme. Besides the strenuous work done pre-summit, being a rapporteur in the COE gave me the opportunity to get more understanding of the councils’ work. I am able to relate to so many questions about councils, even where I have not been in a while. Working with the COEs has been a marvel. Its bitter-sweet that I see local authorities changing gender focal persons. Bitter in the sense that I have to interface with new faces and teach them some of the concepts. On the other hand it is sweet because it signifies the institutional growth in the councils.

During the course of 2018 my relationships (I have very few of these) were strengthened with a few individuals who have helped me to grow. Special mention goes to Priscilla Maposa, who is not only my immediate boss but has become a mentor and sister. Thanks also goes to my good friend Fanuel Hadzizi who has been a great buddy both in and out of the office. I cannot express my heartfelt thanks to the impact these individuals have made in my professional and personal life.

My line of work generally is risky and involves knowledge management (management of very important data that has a bearing on the impact of the organization’s donor deliverables). Sometime in 2018 GL migrated from collecting data via the Epi Info platform to a unique online portal (survey gizmo). Along the way of reconciling our participant data some of it got lost in between the Epi Info and survey gizmo. As the statistics were drawn, I found myself having to answer numerous questions on why there was a disparity between the actual events done and those appearing in the system. I had to go back to my records to clarify the issue. I managed to rectify the issue because I referred back to the reports for that year which are housed both in my E-files on my local machine and on the GL SharePoint. That incident however, taught me to keep a separate record for myself so that it will be easy to refer back to. It also taught me that I had to review my reports regularly with the Monitoring and Evaluation manager each time I make an entry into the system and not wait for an issue like missing statistics to crop up for me to realize there was a mistake somewhere.

Moving forward I will not give up on what I believe and what I intend to do both professionally and personally. GL has cultivated in me a “Never say die” attitude. The greatest reward I will give myself is learning each day. Mistakes or not, learning must take place. I am ALL IN for learning. In whatever you do my one advice for you is “Dream the impossible and make it happen”.

Tapiwa Alvin Zvaraya, is a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Gender Links Zimbabwe office

Comment on Learning comes through reflection

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *