Stories about IYWD's involvement with young women in the community

Re-defining Culture and breaking the barriers: Young woman inaugurated as new Head-person in Mashonaland Central

From the womb, women face gender based stereotypes and prejudices however they continue to defy odds stark against them by claiming their rights from the right to vote to sitting at the table making decisions that affect them. They have broken the glass ceilings and successfully navigated through the violence, sexism, stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination by leading and succeeding in the male dominated fields.

By so doing, women have played a major role in changing the mind-set  of society’s preferential treatment of the male child over the female child. Despite progressive changes and success there is still work to do in ensuring gender parity and building societies where every young woman and girl have a right of way.

Since 2009 Institute for Young Women (IYWD) has built a growing movement of young women from rural and mining communities committed to mobilising and strengthening their voice and power to challenge oppressive systems to live a life of their choice. 

Chiveso village, Ward 13 of Mashonaland Central Province in Zimbabwe has seen a fruitful development of redefining culture and breaking down of barriers where Tendai Chiveso, a young woman aged 29   was inaugurated as the Headperson under a jurisdiction to govern Chiveso community and 11 other villages.

In a county where the majority of these positions are taken up or left for the males, is this the re-definition of the African culture?

Chief Musana, guest of honor at the inauguration, articulated that as traditional leaders they are now acknowledging the changing times and embracing the idea of gender equality and equity.

Over hundred villagers came to witness Headperson Tendai’s inauguration

The establishment is a huge step towards the elimination of a cultural system that for long has been hindering women to occupy high traditional positions like headperson and chieftaincy. From 2009, IYWD has been advocating for equal representation of both the girl and the boy child at all levels. The advocacy is being done through capacity development programmes in the rural communities of Mashonaland Central. Recently IYWD started a campaign that aim to promote participation of young women in traditional judicial systems, which have seen engagement of traditional leaders like village heads and chiefs.

 “This is a great achievement especially for women in Chiveso as they can now present their issues easily to a female leader who can relate and understand them”, said Chief Musana.

He expressed his support towards the new Headperson and applauded Tendai’s family for making a courageous decision to appoint a young woman.

Tendai is the youngest daughter in a family where three older brothers and other family members like her uncles were also eligible to succeed the late Headman Watch Chiveso. However, her brothers and senior family members sat down and reached a consensus to give the girl the privilege to succeed her father for the next two years. 
“With the current call for gender equality, our family has decided to demonstrate to the world that the girl child is capable of doing anything that her male counterpart can do”, said Kennedy Chiveso, Tendai’s elder brother. Most of her relatives also shared the same opinion and promised to support their Headperson in her term.

Embracing change in a culture is a rare thing in Africa but Chiveso village has indeed started a bold movement towards gender equality and equity.

Women from Chiveso came out in numbers to celebrate the event. “We feel inspired! We have realized that gender equality is a reality and we have thrown away fear”, exploded one young woman.

Other young women articulated why they are jovial stressing the issue of handling of women’s issues at the traditional courts. Councillor Zvarimwa and Village Head Chidamba both echoed sentiments on the need for the world to embrace gender equality and women empowerment, encouraging IYWD to continue with the capacity development programmes which are changing the way women are treated and seen in the communities they live.

Meanwhile, Tendai called out fellow young women to be bold and take responsibility when opportunities like these come. “I will use this position to help women when they come with their issues, especially those who are victims of gender-based violence”, said a determined Tendai. She will be the Headperson until September 2019.