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

Standing up and stepping into their political power

It is powerful to see young women between the ages of 15 - 35 progressively showing interest in political participation and gravitating from being mere spectators to actually declaring their aspirations to run for political positions at local government and national level. That’s not all; currently young women in Zimbabwe are collectively standing up and supporting each in their quests to occupy political positions and transforming their communities. 

Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states the obligation of the government to ensure gender balance.  Research and Advocacy unity (RAU) argue that the current numbers note that 35% of women are in the National Assembly and 48% of the Senate, but this masks an actual decline in the number of women directly elected, as the increase only occurs courtesy of the quota system. The number of directly elected women representing constituencies decreased from 34 in 2008 to 26 in 2013. When we zoom in on age and experience the gap further widens. 

Despite coming out in increased numbers the young women are cognisant of the challenges and obstacles on the road as they embark on their personal, individual and collective political journey. It is therefore fundamental for young women to unmask, come face to face and understand the layers of oppression they face or going to face in the political arena.

At the VoteRunLead Conference and Campaign launch convened by Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD) more than 40 young women from different political background shared extraordinary personal stories of pain, hope, resistance, resilience, determination and conviction that have driven them to want to change society’s attitude and behavior towards women.

One on one session: Young women sharing their political journeys.

To improve young women’s consciousness the conference dug deep into a number of conversations in order to have have a collective understanding on how to challenge and disrupt these systems embed in our culture, religion, education and super structure of governance. 

How is the personal is political?

One after other the young women shared how they were denied chances to attend school, physically and emotionally abused in relationships, raped by close family members, never prioritized in their homes, society, schools, workplaces and country.   Young women are criticized for their appearance, and often sexualized by the media.

These stories and experiences propelled them to push for social justice. They recognize that there are stark similarities and recognize the need to build a stronger political movement

Rudo Chigudu, a feminists encouraged the young women that;

You are not your stories. Your stories are your manure. Let them nourish your struggles; propel to get where you want to go. 

Young women need to understand that their bodies are sites of struggles and violence. Rape, sexualisation consists of some of the violations. Reclaiming their bodies is critical to understanding Body Politics add Power as they step into the political arena. 

Running in 2018

Everyday is a learning moment for the young women whom have deliberately declared their aspirations to take up decision-making and political leadership positions. They do so without any false pretenses that its not going to be an easy journey however worth taking. 

Collectively they pledged and challenged each other to push for the implementation of Section 56 of the constitution, which articulates the gender equality through a young women’s quota in Parliament and Local Government beyond 2023.

 They refused to continue speaking of barriers and obstacles but started a new conversation on more women challenging oppressive cultures, systems and practices. One participant shared that more capable women at the top will make significant change therefore there is need for more women to get to the top despite their political backgrounds.   As 2018 General elections approaches the response and attitude from these young women is at best powerful and inspirational.

We are ready for 2018 Elections!