HerStory

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

Mashonaland Central and Midlands Provinces meditate towards grounded Gender Sensitive Social Services Delivery. 

 

 

"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action." -Peter F. Drucker

 

In 2018 the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) embarked on an intervention entitled “Harnessing young women’s voices and power for local government accountability and gender responsive social services delivery (GRSSD)”.  Two years after inception of the project it was paramount to convene an Annual Stakeholders Meeting to take stock of what has worked and what has not, in order to take more effective and grounded action going forward. This crucial reflective process was attended by key stakeholders and young women from across the two provinces, Mashonaland Central and Midlands from 6 districts Zvishavane, Mazowe, Bindura, Gokwe, Shamva and Guruve. In attendance were Councillors, Chief Executive Officers, District Development Coordinators, Town Clerks, Secretaries and Gender Focal Persons amongst other government officials. 

 

In breaking the ground for this thought process, the IYWD having launched a Social Service Barometer in November 2020 which was adopted by the stakeholders as a true reflection of the state of social service delivery in the above mentioned provinces. The only material query was from Mr Shepherd Edward, Assistant District Development Coordinator for Mazowe who argued that it is not true that there is a lack of adequate mechanisms to hold Councillors and relevant stakeholders accountable. He solidified his argument with the Rural Districts Council Act [Chapter 29:13] that mandates Councillors to convene meetings with the community annually. As the IYWD we are in agreement that the frameworks are present but they are not being fully utilised to ensure gender responsive social services delivery. It is the effective utilisation of the accountability frameworks for the benefit of the young women that we call for. In data collection we used a hybrid scorecard system based on the AAAQ (Accessibility; Acceptability; Availability and Quality) concept to score the provision of two key social services – water and health. The exercise was carried out in six districts across two provinces (Bindura, Guruve, Mazowe and Shamva in Mashonaland Central and Zvishavane and Gokwe South in Midlands) and relied on the responses of the young women as well as the relevant stakeholders. The launch and adoption of this barometer set the tone for the reflection process that was conducted the following month

 

The reflection meeting was co-facilitated by the Team Leader, Glanis Changachirere, and Mr Shepherd Edward, the Assistant District Development Coordinator for Mazowe, in a bid to neutralise the discourse and ensure it yields objective results. The gallery was split into 4 groups namely young women from Midlands, young women from Mashonaland Central, Councillors and the last group consisted of Councillors, Chief Executive Officers, District Development Coordinators, Town Clerks, Secretaries and Gender Focal Persons. The four groups broke away and had a chance to have in depth discussions about the challenges as well as the achievements that they have experienced thus far in attaining gender sensitive social service delivery.

 

One of the sticking issues was that young women in Bindura complained of not being allocated an adequate time slot to participate in the budget consultations. Nancy Likiripa from Bindura lamented that, “why do you conduct budget consultations at 4pm, when you know young women will have to be making dinner at this particular time? Is it not possible to have the meetings during the day to enable us to effectively take part in the process?” Mr Chipfuva, the DDC for Bindura noted this concern and responded by saying that there are many ways in which one can participate in the budget consultation process including making written submissions after the budget has been presented. However, he also undertook to look into having a time slot that is gender neutral for discussion of the taxpayers’ funds. 

 

On a good note, the stakeholders and young women celebrated that though there is still work to be done, the allocation of devolution funds saw tangible changes in the communities. Bindura Rural District Council renovated five (5) schools and some roads using these funds. Shamva Rural District Council successfully drilled seven (7) boreholes within its jurisdiction to ensure improved water service delivery in the mining town. It was a common assertion from both the stakeholders and young women that information dissemination from the government on the Covid-19 pandemic was weak. The stakeholders responded that this was largely to do with lack of resources which led them to rely on partners like the IYWD to spread information on their behalf.   Gokwe Town Council boasted that they launched and make use of a digital system which operates through Whatsapp, to conduct town council business like budget consultations and sharing of public notices to the community. In light of Covid-19 and its restrictions on movement and gatherings, young women had a chance to share their thoughts on the budget from the comfort and safety of their homes. 

 

We concluded the year on a high note by harvesting tangible and material commitments from the young women and stakeholders from the two provinces. The key elements of the commitments are that from Mazowe we can look forward to the Mother’s Shelter at Nzvimbo Clinic to be completed by June 2021, as well as drilling boreholes to avail potable water to the community.  One cannot underestimate the provision of timelines provided by the Mazowe Rural District Council because it shows dedication and commitment. The young women also weighed in and through one Lucia Kasiiwa from Shamva, they pledged to work with stakeholders in the communities and not to wait for the meetings that the IYWD hosts. Mr Chipfuva, DDC for Bindura and Mr Machingauta, the Town Clerk will speed up the removal of silt from the Mazowe dam as it causes severe water shortages for Bindura. CEO Mandinyenya says he will continue working with young women, as everyone’s participation is critical in ensuring gender sensitive service delivery.

 

The IYWD is looking forward to the New Year, as we will redefine and reconstruct our work based on what has worked for the last two years. The written commitments from the stakeholders pave way for us to hold them accountable based on the reflective process that they were a part of. As we continue to navigate our way in achieving gender sensitive social service delivery, the future seems bright.

 

More Commitments in Writing

Mashonaland Central Province

     Commitment to resolve outstanding barriers for young women’s attendance and participation at community development meetings

     Commitment to further develop and capacitate Village Development Committee and Ward Development Committees to be efficient as grassroots duty-bearers in line with the devolution agenda

     Commitment to prioritise alternative development projects (Masembura Dam as an alternative to Mazowe Dam) that will enable access of water in Bindura in response to young women’s petition for efficient water services delivery

Midlands Province

     Adopting learning lessons from Mashonaland Central, specifically Guruve, commitment to prioritise construction of mothers’ shelters at clinics in the province

     Commit to guide other local authorities to set up mobile engagement platforms where citizens can attend meetings and obtain information and updates from local authorities virtually

     Commitment to make information more accessible to all individuals through translating information into vernacular language and simplifying technical jargon

Young women (Midlands and Mashonaland Central)

     Commitment to continually attend and participate all relevant development meetings convened by local authorities