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

Consolidating generational gender equality gains: International Women’s Day 2020 Commemoration

Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) launched its commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) in Bindura on the 14th of March 2020. This was then followed by profiling of outstanding young women leaders and activists in various fields related to IYWD’s work, until 31 March 2020. The commemorations were held under the United Nations’ global theme “I am Generation Equality; Realizing Women’s Rights”.

The launch was attended by 150 young women from predominantly from Mashonaland Central and also representatives from Mashonaland East and Midlands Provinces who marched for 3km before gathering at Twin Lodges. As the tradition in IYWD our commemorations also received the support and solidarity from our ally organisations including but not limited to the Deaf Women Included, Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe and Alliance for Community based Organisations among others who all gave inspirational speeches on the journeys of young women and women turning the patriarchal and inequality tide in Zimbabwe.   

The IYWD took the opportunity to recognise and celebrate courageous young women leaders and activists who are pushing societal boundaries and bringing about change in their lives and communities every day. These are young women who are on the frontlines of championing gender equality and fighting oppressive systems and practices in their everyday lives. In recognising these young women, Glanis Changachirere the IYWD Team Leader applauded the IYWD for its 10years of frontline-grassroots activism and making sure the voice and agency of young women is strengthened and put to the centre of gender equality, democracy and good governance efforts. ‘In 2009, when IYWD was founded, very few would recognise the need for inclusion of young women, outside the broader categories of youth and women. Actually the voices and agency of young women were lost between these two. But today, following our 10years of amplifying young women’s voices, young women are gradually being recognised as full citizens and agents of change on their own’ she said.  She went on to recognise sectors were young women coming from IYWD were making footprints

The work of IYWD starts from the very villages and communities where the young women live. A number of young women were mentioned as having successfully stood out and got elected into leadership positions in Schools Development Committees (SDCs), Clinic Committees, Water Committees among others. Young women have also emerged to be known for challenging poor governance and holding local authorities accountable. A councillor in Guruve described young women and IYWD as ‘a pressure group that they are forced to think about before making any decision or taking any action’.

Young women were also recognised for historically influencing the traditional judiciary system which is dominant in rural and other marginalised communities. A group of five young women who have been playing paralegal roles in Chief Chipuriro’s Traditional Court in Guruve were appointed official traditional Court Officers. The Chief promoted the young women so that they do not only oversee the enforcement of a rights based approach on cases involving women only, but to do so on all cases that come into his court. Young women traditional leaders who were also part of the commemorations were also hailed for braving and taking the highly patriarchal system head on.

IYWD went on to recognise and applaud young women ward Councillors and Members of Parliament who were elected into office in the 2018 elections-describing the #VoteRunLead success as only the beginning of a long journey towards the equal representation of women and young women in politics at Local Government and Parliamentary levels. Outstanding young women recognised included but were not limited to Honourable Lindiwe Maphosa, a #VoteRunLead alumni who is successfully pushing for the upholding of Section 40 of the Marriages Bill by Zimbabwe’s Parliament. Section 40 seeks to recognise and uphold marriage rights of women whose marriages are not necessarily solemnised in a court of law or through customary marriage-a section that had sparked controversy due misinterpretation by patriarchs.  Another #VoteRunLead alumni recognised at the launch was Vongai Zimudzi who contested in the 2018 Elections as a Ward Councillor in Hatfield, Harare at the age of 21. Despite losing the election, Vongai has remained a distinguished young woman leader who recently held a presser and distributed letters to Parliamentarians, calling for the declaration of Corona Virus as a state of emergency in the country. On 17 March, the President declared Covid-19 as a state of emergency in Zimbabwe. IYWD also recognised Vimbai Mukawu, a young woman Dariro Executive Chairperson of IYWD, who was appointed as the Gender Focal Person for Bindura Rural District Council by full council resolution. Vimbai has been quite active in entrepreneurship and seeking council’s accountability for gender responsive social services delivery.


The 2020 IWD commemorative launch was also marked by a robust debate on constitutionalism and the Constitutional Amendment Bill in Zimbabwe.  IYWD revealed that the organisation has since 2017 been engaged in advocacy for 50/50 representation of women in local government and parliament and seeking 25%  of that to be allocated  for young women below 35years respectively. This is provided for in Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution Amendment No.20 Act on sections 17, 20, 56 and 80. While the advocacy was going on well including the submission of a 50/50 and 25% petition to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in partnership with other women’s rights organisations and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission in November 2019, the organisation expressed outrage on the setback in the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2. The amendment is proposing as an extension of the current Additional Reserved 60 seats Quota yet the organisation is demanding the enactment of a Gender Equality Act that guarantees 50/50 and 25% being young women below 35years both at Local Government and Parliament. The young women and other participants shot down the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2 on the basis that it seeks to limit rather than expand citizen rights in most of its provisions.