Bulawayo City Council Institutional Profile

Bulawayo City Council Institutional Profile

Date: October 9, 2013
  • SHARE:

“It’s a man’s world said the men who felt threatened by the recruitment of women to jobs traditionally regarded as masculine jobs. People realized that there was a genuine drive to include women in male dominated fields hence would constantly remind me that it’s a men’s world. Others would shout that it is only women being recruited nowadays”.

The City of Bulawayo has been a Centre of Excellence for Governance and Gender mainstreaming since 2010. It followed immediately after a situational analysis conducted by Gender Links. At the time, we were already involved in another gender budgeting programme which we partnered with The Zimbabwe Women`s resource Centre and Network. Both organizations came up with identical strategies of first looking at what was already there- the Baseline.
The Baseline study was conducted by Gender Links and came as an eye opener to us. We identified gaps in the way we were doing things, such as the number of women`s representations and all our other activities. I was also new in the position of gender focal person but because of the training received from Gender Links, we were all brought together colleagues and councilors to think of ways of improving the situation.

Over the years we have grown together to become more gender aware, and we started to do things differently as a council. For example, we now look at gender dimensions in every aspect of our work. Prior, we used to do budget consultations every year, but all we were worried about were the numbers of people who attended, regardless of their sex and age. After being enlightened, we realized how such information was useful. It changed the way we planned. Now when we plan for the water situation or budget meetings, we always look at the needs of different groups, such as women, men, boys and girls as well as people with disabilities. Their needs are different, yet they are all members of the Bulawayo community.

Looking at recruitment, as Human Resources, we focused on our staffing. After the situational analysis, we realized that women made up less than 20% of our staffing contingent. The hyperinflation of the economy caused us to lose lots of staff to greener pastures. In 2010, as we started to recruit again, we decided to aggressively recruit more women to bridge the gap. To be able to do that, a policy was of key importance. The SADC protocol says there should be 50-50% women and men participating in all sectors and levels of the council by 2015. We then realized we needed a 5% percent annual increase in the number of women recruited. Unfortunately that was met with a recruitment freeze directive from the responsible ministry. This directive however came a bit late so it only came into action when we had recruited, and increased from our baseline of 18% to the current 26%. We recruited nurses who were mostly women, and female security guards, a domain previously dominated by men, because we were following a policy that demanded a female quota in recruitment.

Our council comprises of 25 males and 3 females, who are mostly supportive of gender related programmes. The town clerk and the chamber secretary have encouraged the process and given me a platform to educate and disseminate information about gender mainstreaming. Because of their support, people have realized that gender issues can no longer be taken for granted, but are a serious issue within our council.
What distinguishes us from any other council is our vision. We are the leader in local governance excellence. Gender Links came up with Centres of Excellence programme, and it spoke directly to our vision and mission. We realized that if we wanted to be associated with excellence, gender mainstreaming was an issue we could not afford to ignore.

Gender Mainstreaming in local councils is still a new topic. Anything that is new and brings in change encounters resistance. People view gender issues with skepticism and feel threatened. Some people come to me asking if my gender agenda is to remove men from their jobs and give them to women. These genuine comments show how anxious people are about gender issues.
We have continued to educate people about the need to address gender equality. Awareness campaigns have been instrumental in sensitizing the public about the need to achieve gender equality by 2015, since it is an MDG goal. The educational material we have received from Gender Links and other partners have helped demystify many myths surrounding gender mainstreaming.

Socialization has also been a big challenge we face in our work. Growing up in patriarchal communities which perpetuate certain stereotypes about the kind of work women cannot do, and in societies that have made women to believe that men lead while women follow, makes things difficult. It means that women sometimes turns down an opportunity to lead so that a male is picked up for the role.
Backbiting is also a problem in our work. People have a pull her down syndrome which causes other women to contribute to the failure of one of their own. I have remained focused despite these challenges and seek advice on how to handle certain problems.

Funding of gender related projects remains a problem. There is no stand-alone gender budget, leaving us to depend on little contributions from other stakeholders. The inclusion of gender mainstreaming into the performance agreement helps us remain focused to the goal. Personally, I have grown to understand issues of gender more especially at home, so I cannot say this work ends at work only but overlaps into my personal life.

Comment on Bulawayo City Council Institutional Profile

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