WALPE Activity Update 09.

i)Financial literacy is important in ensuring aspiring women leaders manage public funds well

The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) with assistance from Diakonia conducted two capacity building trainings in social entrepreneurship, value addition, branding and access to markets in Gwanda urban and rural-Manama in Matebeleland South, from 14 to 17 September 2022. 

120 aspiring women leaders were capacitated with skills and knowledge in social entrepreneurship so as to help them understand:

  • What financial literacy is,
  • What is budgeting,
  • How to budget,
  • The importance of value addition, branding and packaging.
  • How to run successful businesses and projects as aspiring leaders who will be responsible for managing different projects in their communities and
  • How to market their products physically and digitally.

The practical part of the trainings saw the aspiring women leaders being taught how to make  marmalade jam, dried vegetables/mufushwa and tomato sauce for resale in order to supplement their incomes.

The social entrepreneurship model of training is meant to support women that are aspiring for public leadership positions to ensure that they are able to fund and support their campaigns and other leadership activities as well as to support their families.

This was done as a realisation that women were shying away from participating in politics and leadership positions because of the financial constraints it has on them and their families. Hence, the training and financial support is meant to create a better financial support for women to take up and equally participate in public leadership positions thus, paving way for gender equality.

ii)Transformative Feminist Leadership trainings crucial to aspiring women leaders’ development

From 01 to 04 October 2022, the WALPE team, with support from Canada, travelled to Gutu South and Bikita East in Masvingo to conduct the Transformative Feminist Leadership (TFL) trainings with 50 aspiring women leaders.

The trainings equipped the women with the skills and confidence to contest for leadership positions and take an active interest in matters of governance and national development. The capacity building processes are enhancing the leadership capacity and know-how of women who want to occupy leadership positions from grassroots to national level.

The full day trainings are guided by WALPE’s  flagship transformative feminist leadership training manual that covers the following topics: Transformative Feminist Leadership, Political Career Development,  Building and Managing a Campaign, Introduction to Public Service and Volunteerism, Negotiation and Consensus Building skills, Non-violent campaign strategies, Constituency Outreach and Voter Mobilisation Strategies, Resilience Building and Social Accountability, Public speaking and Mastering the Art of Convincing Audiences, Introduction to Feminism, Etiquette and Confidence building, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and lastly, Introduction to Climate change.

The trainings were conducted seminar style with breakout sessions for group work and practicals. After the trainings, the participants were confident that they can effectively contest and win leadership positions.

iii)Increase budget allocation in social services and health- WALPE 2023 National Gender Responsive

WALPE in September with the assistance of Oxfam drafted a 2023 Gender Responsive Dummy budget and presented it to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development for consideration during the National Budget consultations.

The dummy budget’s main focus is on social service and healthcare delivery and why an increase in allocation of funds was important to women who often bear the brunt of poor services.

According to the budget, by providing adequate provision of funds to key areas such as water and sanitation, health, women empowerment and energy, women could have more time to participate in leadership, decision making and developmental processes.

WALPE noted in the dummy budget that while every aspect was important, social service delivery and healthcare should be prioritised as they affect not only women but also children.

“Section 76 of the Constitution provides for the right to health, by stating that every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to have access to basic health-care services, including reproductive health-care services. SDG3 sets out the tone for global commitment towards accessible, affordable, and quality health care which results in the holistic wellbeing of the person. As such, national budgets must be directed towards adequately funding health including supporting mental health. Zimbabwe also subscribes to the Abuja Declaration (at regional level), which sets a minimum budget allocation of 15 % of the total national budget towards health”

In the dummy budget, it was stated that areas such as education should also be prioritised and that Government should make do of their promise to provide free basic education for all.

Other areas of concern that needed budgetary allocation included land and mining- where women are mostly marginalised as few of them have access to land rights and mining concessions.

iv)Dummy Budget breakfast meeting opens up discussion on importance of recognising Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW).

On 27 September 2022, the WALPE with support from Oxfam held a breakfast meeting with 45 Members of Parliament to present the 2023 National Gender Responsive Dummy Budget proposal. The Members of Parliament were drawn from five portfolio committees namely Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development, Health and Child Care, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development and the Women’s Caucus. 

A total of 27 female and 18 male Members of Parliament attended the discussion. Other partners that attended included representatives from Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and five local media houses.  

The meeting enhanced knowledge and understanding of the importance of prioritising social service delivery in allocating funds in the national budget to allow women to take part in other developmental processes. It also opened the debate on Unpaid Care and Domestic Work (UCDW) so that policies and laws are enacted that emphasize its importance. It is important to shift the public’s perception on UCDW so that it can be recognised, reduced, represented and redistributed. 

During the breakfast meeting, the organisation put emphasis on water and sanitation, energy, education, health and women empowerment which affect women in both rural and urban areas. However, the organisation also stressed on the need for  Government to recognise the contribution that women make in other key areas of the economy such as land, taxation, mining and devolution.

The majority of the contributions shared by Members of Parliament indicated that prioritising social service delivery is critical to creating time for women to participate in leadership and community developmental processes.  Members of Parliament in attendance including men shared that UCDW which is exacerbated by poor social service delivery affects women and girls on a daily basis resulting to their low participation in development work.

Members of Parliament such as Hon GoodLuck Kwaramba, shared how she had taken the initiative further by engaging women community members to unpack UCDW and capture views from women in her community. She shared that most women noted that UCDW affected their participation in community and leadership processes, as it takes up a lot of their time.

During the plenary discussions, there was a general agreement that UCDW must be recognised. Legislators such as Hon Christopher Chingosho and Perseverance Zhou shared examples of health conditions that women develop due to the care work that they do at home hence it must be recognised, reduced, represented and redistributed. 

Hon Tapiwa Mashakada noted that because of the importance of UCDW on the country, Parliament should start the process of enacting laws and policies that govern it. He stated that there are areas in the dummy budget which need to have more funds shifted towards social services and health.

Some of the recommendations shared during the meeting included: 

  • The need for legislation and policies that recognise and govern Unpaid Care and Domestic Work.
  • That Government introduce paid paternity leave for men so that they can help their wives and partners after childbirth.
  • The need for infrastructure development of healthcare facilities countrywide, with a specific focus on rural areas which are mostly shunned by healthcare professionals.
  • Having a pro-poor budget which zooms in on child-headed families and families that are headed by single parents and the elderly.
  • Improve access to social services such as water, sewer and electricity in order to reduce the burden of UCDW.
  • Put necessary infrastructure in the informal sector which is dominated by women so that they can benefit through establishment of day-care centres for their children that are close to vending points.

v)“We will use the leadership training skills as we campaign for political positions” aspiring women leaders.

From 05-08 October 2022, WALPE with the support of the Embassy of Canada conducted Transformative Feminist Leadership trainings for 50 aspiring women leaders in Glen View and Budiriro in Harare.

The training workshops enhanced the knowledge and capacities of women aspiring to take up leadership positions. The capacity building process focused on educational topics such as Political career development, Etiquette and confidence building, disability mainstreaming, Campaign strategy, Introduction to public service, Social Accountability and Constitutionalism, Climate change, Sexual and Reproductive Health rights (SRHR).

The trainings targeted women aspiring leaders as we head towards the primary elections and the 2023 harmonized elections. A solidarity wall was created in which women shared sticky notes of the positions that they aspire to contest and their expectations during the electoral period. The women expressed interest in being councillors, Members of Parliament and holding national level political party positions.

The leadership trainings helped the participants to polish their skills in public speaking, resilience and sexual reproductive health rights. The women commended the training indicating that it has refreshed their minds and created new ideas ahead of the elections. A general sense of self-confidence prevailed among the participants, which was demonstrated by a common feeling of competency and a high level of leadership development. They reported that the leadership trainings had a practical approach that enabled them to implement the skills as soon as they learned them. 

vi)Savings are an important aspect of financial management for aspiring women leaders

From October 12-15, 2022, WALPE with assistance from the Embassy of Canada trained 50 women on social entrepreneurship, branding, value addition and access to markets. The aspiring women leaders where drawn from Glen View and Glen Norah high density suburbs of Harare. More than half of the participants were women within the youth age range of 18-35 years.

Social entrepreneurship is an important aspect of leadership as the aspiring women leaders can use their new skills to start-up businesses that will enable them to fund their leadership campaigns, while also taking care of their families.

Part of the training course included financial literacy, savings management, basic business management, value chain management, market linkages and how to grow and manage a business.

The women were taught the importance of financial planning that would also assist them not only in their households but also during their campaigns for leadership positions in their communities.

After the theory lessons, the women did practicals of making jam and tomato sauce- businesses they can also start and make profits from.

vii)Men open up on women political participation.

On 29 and 30 September 2022, the organisation conducted two male engagement sessions on gender equality in Masvingo with the aid of Diakonia. The two sessions which were conducted in Ngundu and Nyamafufu, were attended by 40 men and 20 of them were youth.

The main aim of engaging men was to create a group of men who actively support women leaders, encourage their counterparts to support women leaders and also become gender champions in their spheres of influence.

The organisation created a platform for men to discuss issues that limit them from supporting women to take up leadership positions from community to national level.  The platform also enabled men to discuss why women shun away from political issues, while sharing examples within their communities.

Some of the issues shared by men included:

  • Political violence before, during and after elections.
  • Sexual harassment which is dominate in all political parties.
  • Lack of financial resources to fund women’s political campaigns.
  • Lack of confidence to contest against men for public positions.
  • Fear of men losing their wives to men who dominate the political environment.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that limit women’s participation in leadership and decision making processes and;
  • Unpaid care and domestic work which women take much of their time doing.

By the end of the session men showed improved understanding on why it is important for women to participate in leadership and political process. The men also stressed that women themselves should learn to support each other which has more impact as they are the majority in terms of the national population.

viii)Women need to be adequately resourced to effectively participate in leadership processes.

On 14 October, WALPE in partnership with the Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA)-Zimbabwe and with the support from the Netherlands Embassy held an online television program  with Bustop Tv which was attended by aspiring women leaders.

The topic of the program “Women’s participation in primary elections: Perspectives from aspiring women leaders” saw the participants highlighting the various challenges they have faced so far in aspiring to run for public office.

The tv program  discussed whether political parties are adhering to Constitutional provisions on gender equality and what aspiring women and young women leaders were doing to ensure that they are adequately represented in both primary and general elections.

One of the participants highlighted that while there was support from her community, they feared intimidation and impending intra party violence which are synonymous with primary election and candidate selection processes.

Another participant noted that the candidate nomination fees gazetted by Government were too steep for aspiring women leaders particularly those in the rural areas and women with disabilities. Another participant emphasised the need to financially capacitate women and women with disabilities so that they can fully participate in electoral processes. At the end of the program, the aspiring women leaders concurred that women needed financial resources and protection from all forms of political violence.

ix)WALPE distributes small income generating projects to assist rural based aspiring women leaders.

On 09 September 2022, WALPE with the aid of Diakonia distributed income generating projects funds to 53 aspiring women leaders in Ngundu and Nyamafufu, Masvingo rural. The funds are being used by the women leaders to start small businesses, whose profits they would use to assist them in their leadership campaigns.

Among some of the projects that the women are doing are poultry and piggery farming, selling of second-hand and new clothing items as well as catering businesses. Recipients of the funds were grateful, stating that they can now be self-sufficient and not rely on anyone for money.

One of the women said she is now be able to take her children to school and be a respectable member of the community through her business venture. “It is not every day that an organisation will give you start-up income for a business without wanting anything in return. WALPE has made us respectable women who are confident in themselves and can take up any leadership and decision making position without fear.”

x)The Government must bar vote buying during elections, bemoans aspiring women leaders from Gwanda.

Between 13-16 October 2022, the WALPE team was in Gwanda town and rural Manama area for a monitoring visit and distribution of small income generating projects under its Diakonia project to 56 aspiring women leaders who were trained by the organisation in transformative feminist leadership and social entrepreneurship.

The aspiring women leaders were grateful for the knowledge and skills transfer in leadership and some who were trained in 2021 are already occupying community leadership positions. During the distribution of the small income generating project funds, the leaders were grateful for the financial boost and bemoaned the scourge of voting buying which is prevalent during internal primary elections and candidate selection processes and also the national elections.

Poverty in Zimbabwe wears the face of a woman and many of them are struggling to make ends meet but are passionate about leadership and have no means to spare funds for vote buying. The aspiring women leaders pleaded with the Government and political parties to put necessary measures to protect women from vote buying which is mainly perpetrated by men. Many women suffer from this electoral malpractise  resulting in many of them shunning politics.