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

Mobilising and strengthening the voice and power of young women #VoteRunLead

Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) facilitated a safe space to immerse in feminist leadership conversations for 40 young women from different political backgrounds aspiring to run for Local Government and Parliament positions in 2018 from 24 to 25 October 2017. Ten political and civic leaders also engaged in intergenerational conversations where they shared their perspectives, experiences and strategies on young women Voting, Running and Leading in political leadership and decision making processes. 

The conversations culminated into the launch of the #VoteRunLead Campaign which will create spaces for dialogue, skills and experiences shares on community organising and mobilisation and engage in intergenerational political conversations to support and inspire the young women as they embark on their political journey. The campaign will also facilitate networking opportunities for the young women aspiring to run for office with politicians, civil society leaders, activists, academia among others.

Intergenerational conversations to share perspectives, experiences and strategies for 2018 Elections.

Although more women are demonstrating interest in political processes their occupation of leadership positions remain slow and low in Zimbabwe owing to systematic and structural barriers. The #VoteRunLead Campaign seeks to address some of these challenges and create opportunities by facilitating supportive means for young women to stay focused on providing leadership at the same time overcoming these barriers.

Young women from different political background shared their experiences, nodded to various barriers to political participation and leadership they face in workplaces, schools, homes and societies. They shared that the political participation gap further widens when we examine age and experiences of young women.  Currently through the proportional representation 60 seats were appointed to women in the House of Assembly however few young women make up the 60.

Speaking at the event IYWD Team Leader Glanis Changachirere said:

Young women have always been ready to take up leadership roles in public space, however, a number of barriers have been preventing them to be effective and to take up leadership positions and occupy the spaces.

Young people here are very much aware of why they want to take up those positions and what   inspires them and changes they want to effect when they take up those positions. We then need to acknowledge the challenges that prevent them to do so that they may inspire other young people to take up the leadership positions as well.

IYWD has a transformative leadership program, where we are training young women in feminist leadership. Feminist leadership acknowledges that our communities are experiencing challenges and young people therefore have a role to play. In order to do so the young people need to understand the dynamics such as power, identity, body politics and how our bodies are used against us. We are also preparing the young women to make themselves vulnerable to these realities and prepare them to face these challenges.

said Glanis Changachirere IYWD Team Leader 

"Young people need to understand the dynamics such as power, identity, body politics and how our bodies are used against us"-Glanis.

The campaign understands that in order to assist there is need to facilitate supportive means to improve young women’s chances of running for elections at all levels. Political participation of women does not only shape election outcomes, but also the substantive representation of women in the policy-making process. When more women vote, run and lead their collective voice is louder. 

#VoteRunLead is anchored on the belief that young women as a collective have strength to challenge oppressive systems and practices that hinder them from living lives of their choice.  The young women therefore made a pledge to follow through the resolutions below:

  • Young women to collectively organise and push for a young women’s quota in both the Parliament and Local Government.
  • Young women collectively come together and challenge structural inequalities that oppress them based on race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, age and sexuality.
  • Young women collectively push the government of Zimbabwe to implement the constitution and reforms necessary to promote gender equality and equity.
  • Institute for Young Women Development should continue facilitating safe spaces for conversations and exploration of feminism nuances.
  • Institute for Young Women Development facilitate training on setting up political campaigns with specific focus on organising and mobilisation for those aspiring to run for office.