HerStory

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

Harnessing young women voices and power: Institute for Young Women Development boosts young women participation in Gokwe

 

 Gokwe Deputy Mayor speaking at IYWD's Provincial Budget Tracking Monitoring Indaba.

 

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Focal Point on Youth, UNDESA youth is not represented adequately in formal political institutions and processes such as Parliaments, political parties, elections, and public administrations.

The situation is even more difficult for both young women as well as women at mid-level and decision-making/leadership positions. The Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) have contributed to significant change of attitudes and involvement of young women in development programs in Gokwe District of Midlands Province Zimbabwe. It has been evident that since the launch of the project “Harnessing young women’s voices and power for local government accountability and gender responsive social services delivery (GRSSD)” in 2018, young women participation in community development processes have gradually increased from village to ward level. Young women are now being elected into community leadership structures and a changing trend in numbers of men versus women has been noted in local government meetings and initiatives, with young women participation on the increase.

One of the key stakeholders who have been involved in IYWD empowerment programs, Gokwe Deputy Mayor Mrs Charity Mungwani articulated how she has been witnessing the change of young women thinking and action towards community development since IYWD interventions. “I remember one instance after an IYWD workshop (a Mushandirapamwe), I liked the concept and called young women for a clean-up. There we discussed the importance of attending development meetings and contributing in meetings such as budget consultations. After some time of deliberations and some arguing that speaking in those meeting doesn’t not work because the Council will always do what they want, young women who have been involved in IYWD programs convinced others that as young women they can be game changers by actively participating in large numbers and speaking out with one voice as sisters. In the next budget consultation I saw an overwhelming attendance of young women (122) and almost 90 % of them were those who attended the clean-up”, explained the Deputy Mayor.

Young women in Gokwe are now participating in meetings like crafting of housing, advocating to be considered whenever council is allocating stands. ‘In one of the meetings we told them we need to be considered on payments by being given our own day to queue for stands and to be given a favorable payment plan which allows us as young women to afford to buy our own stands”, said Elphine, a young woman from Jahana Village in Gokwe. These acts are not just easy stories, but acts of women in rural areas building on the shoulders of feminist movements that came before them, to challenge structural systems that have prevented women from having access and to own and control residential land in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, where corruption is rampant in councils and allocation of residential stands in towns, cities and growth points is rife, ensuring that young women influence such processes goes a long way towards inculcating transparency and accountability in local government.

Another young woman Tatenda Mafuto expressed gratitude at IYWD after being elected into the Ward Development Committee (WADCO) last month (November 2020). She narrated; “IYWD has given us confidence and washed away all the fears we had to stand up and speak up at public platforms as young women. I boldly volunteered to be voted into the committee and I was successfully elected as the first committee member, alongside 4 men and two other women (above 35). I was the only woman below 35 years of age”.

Tatenda Mafuto was the only young woman elected into the WADCO.

Meanwhile Gokwe Town Council Chairperson has applauded young women for their visibly increasing participation in local government processes as it makes it easy for them to make gender responsive decisions when it comes to social service delivery. “We can only know the real concerns of women if they actively participate in our processes as they are doing”, he said. He also highlighted the significant change of more women than men at recent budget consultation meetings and he called upon IYWD to continue their advocacy in the district as it is making a huge difference as far as women empowerment and their involvement in development processes is concerned.

 

Being able to challenge corruption in councils and championing young women’s leadership in local authorities processes is truly the very act of harnessing young women’s voice and power for accountable governance and gender responsive social services delivery (GRSSD) 

 

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