WALPE monthly activity updates

Official launch of WeCOBs……

i)WALPE launches the Network of Women-Led Community Based Organisations (WeCBOs)

The Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) launched the Network of Women-Led Community Based Organisations (WeCOBs) on 02 December 2021 at a colourful event in the capital city of Manicaland, Mutare. The launch attracted representatives from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and aspiring women leaders.

The launch of WeCOBs signifies the beginning of fruitful collaboration and partnership opportunities for women-led CBOs to fundraise, co-work, co-create, exchange ideas, strategies and tactics on promoting the rights of women and girls. This platform is aimed at achieving the following:

·         To provide a platform for women- led CBOs across Zimbabwe to network, collaborate and build a movement on projects mainstreaming governance and democracy into their work.

·         To capacitate women- led CBOs to effectively fundraise and build stronger institutions.

·         To be a one stop centre for amplifying the impact of the work of women- led CBOs in Zimbabwe.

·         To plan, implement, and monitor social and economic development programs and provide technical and financial assistance to upcoming women-led CBOs.

ii)Inspiring and engaging Democracy Talk with the Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

WALPE members ie the Women Leadership Networks (WALANs) in partnership with Diakonia held an inspiring and insightful democracy talk at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence, with Her Excellency Asa Pehrson on 26 November 2021.

The democracy talk unearthed challenges that the WALANs who are vying for various leadership positions in the 2023 elections are facing at personal, community and political party  level. This was part of a series of activities that WALPE was undertaking to commemorate the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

WALANs mentioned various action plans that they were implementing to ensure increased participation of women in electoral processes and tactics that they had adopted to win the hearts of the electorate so as to get elected.

Some of the action plans include:

·         Mobilising women to register to vote and vote for female candidates in the 2023 elections and beyond.

·         Participating in community social activities to improve relations with community members.

·         Forming sports clubs for networking.

·         Providing civic and voter education to enlighten women on voter registration and election processes.

iii)Commemorating 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

#WomenForElectoralReforms online protest.

An online protest, television and radio program were held through the Women Reform Network to commemorate the beginning of the 16 days of Activism against gender-based violence. An online protest was organised as part of raising awareness on various forms of violence that women face which inhibit their ability to participate meaningfully in leadership and decision making processes. The WRN is a coalition of 25 women’s rights organizations and women-led Community Based Organizations with an interest in the integrity of electoral processes and is being coordinated by WALPE.

Up to 100 photos of representatives of members of the Women Reform Network holding placards inscribed with various messages with the hashtag #LetHerLead, #16days and #EndVAWENow flooded the internet in protest against violence which is perpetrated against women and girls in politics. The messages reflected the various effects of gender-based violence on the participation of women in leadership, decision making, development, politics among other spheres of life.

iv) Radio and TV Program on the “Implications of Political Violence on Women’s Participation in electoral processes”

A live radio broadcast on Skyz Metro FM- Bulawayo was aired and three representatives of the Women Reform Network (WRN) stirred the conversation on how political violence deters women from participating in electoral processes.

The same sentiments were echoed during a ZTN TV program where it was highlighted that political violence was an impediment to socio-economic and political development. Political violence was castigated for creating an environment of fear where women are scared to freely and actively engage in politics.

Some of the recommendations made during the live broadcasts were:

·         That traditional leaders should be non-partisan and allow free participation of rural young women in electoral processes.

·         That female prisoners to be granted their right to vote.

·         That legislation relevant to the elimination of political violence to be put in place so as to protect women and girls.

v)Twitter Space on Women’s Human Rights Are a Yardstick of National Progress: A case of Marry Chiwenga.

Renowned gender, legal and women’s rights experts converged in real time on 29 November, 2021 and stirred a discussion during a WALPE Twitter Space on women’s rights focusing on the case of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s estranged wife, Marry. Ms Chiwenga’s case has become the centre of conversations around women and children’s custody rights after she was denied her right to seek medical attention and access to her children.

The Twitter space was led by WALPE Executive Director Sitabile Dewa, legal expert Maxine Chisweto from Veritas, Female Prisoners Support Trust Executive Director Rita Nyampinga, Economic Justice for Women Project Executive Director Margaret Mutsamvi and author and women’s rights defender Tsitsi Dangarembga.

This discussion was attended by Zimbabweans from diverse backgrounds across the world who castigated Ms Chiwenga’s treatment by her ex-husband and the State and urged all Zimbabweans in various spaces such as the Parliament, Independent Commissions that support Democracy, the private sector, other civic society organisations and the ministry of Women Affairs to stand as a united front and demand justice for Marry Chiwenga.

vi) 360 aspiring women leaders complete a programme on Social Entrepreneurship.

With support from Diakonia, WALPE from 17 to 29 November 2021, capacitated 360 aspiring women leaders in Social Entrepreneurship, Value Addition, Branding and Access to Markets in Mabvuku, Masvingo Rural and Gwanda

They were trained to write competitive business proposals and effective business planning and management. Areas covered by the trainings include Financial Literacy and Savings Management, Budgeting in Financial Planning and Digital Marketing among others.

The aspiring women also had practical trainings on making marmalade jam, tomato sauce, dried vegetable and sewing washable face masks. These trainings are aimed at improving their livelihoods and boost their financial capacities for them to effectively manage their leadership campaigns ahead of the 2023 elections.

In Gwanda, 120 more women also went through the Transformative Feminist Leadership (TFL) training covering topics such as Leadership, Social Accountability, Grooming and Etiquette and Non-Violent Campaign Strategies among other areas covered by WALPE’s flagship module. The TFL enhances the knowledge and skills necessary for aspiring women leaders to effectively compete for public elected positions at all levels.

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