WALPE Monthly Activity updates.
i) Masks Distribution in Harare under the 2.2 million Votes For Women From Women election campaign.
In the month of August 2021, the WALPE programmes officers took to the streets of Harare and distributed 1 000 washable and branded masks under the 2.2 million Votes For Women From Women election (#SheElectsSheLeads) campaign.
They engaged women in the informal sector, female students and various other women from Mbare, Budiriro, Highfield, Glennorah, Hopely and other surrounding areas. The distribution of masks will fortify the election campaign since the message will now be carried across the divide on branded masks reminding women of their critical role in the next plebiscites.
The WALPE sensitized the women on the importance of participating in electoral processes both as voters and candidates which is the backbone of the campaign at the same time raising awareness on preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID19. This was also done as part of the WALPE’s mandate as a member of the national Risk Communication and Community Engagement technical working group under the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
A large of the women engaged expressed great enthusiasm to support the 2.2 million campaign with some men also showing interest in the initiative and pledging to support women in the road to the 2023 elections.
ii) WALANs advocate for electoral reforms through TV.
Members of WALPE’s Women Leadership Networks (WALANS) from Epworth, Chitungwiza, Marondera, Murewa and Hwedza amplified their voices for a reformed electoral system during a series of television programs held on BUSTOP TV.
The first program on 19 August 2021, hosted by WALPE and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) with support from Netherlands Embassy was on: The importance of gender sensitive reforms…#LetsGo5050 while the second program on 27 August 2021 explored: Breaking barriers limiting the full participation of women in elections as voters and candidates.
There were glaring similarities in what the women demanded to guarantee their full participation in the upcoming 2023 elections chief among them being the eradication of electoral violence, non-partisan defence forces, provision of balloting facilities to illiterate voters, assisting women with acquirement of identification particulars and equal coverage by public media.
The TV programs ensured that WALANs reached out to other women in the communities to speak with one voice and increase the number of women demanding electoral reforms. This will ensure an increase in women participation ahead of the 2023 elections which is a huge leap towards increasing women representation in leadership at all levels of governance.
Some of the actions plans devised by the WALANS to encourage fellow women to participate in electoral processes included:
Ø Conducting door-to-door voter education and awareness on the importance of participating in electoral processes when the COVID19 situation subside.
Ø Utilizing funds realized from Income Generating Projects (IGPs) provided by the two organizations to facilitate the running and management of political campaigns.
Ø Encouraging and assisting those without proper identification particulars to acquire them.
Ø Mobilizing first-time women voters to register to vote and vote for female candidates.
iii) Training of Trainers (TOT) capacity building sessions in Transformative Feminist Leadership for Aspiring Women Leaders in Mutasa.
On 19 August 2021, WALPE in consortium with Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) and Mutasa Youth Forum (MYF) conducted a virtual Training of Trainers (TOT) capacity building session in Transformative Feminist Leadership with 50 aspiring women leaders in Mutasa district. The women were selected from a pool of aspiring women leaders who were trained in the Transformative Feminist Leadership in June 2020 from the eight wards that the Women Empowered for Participation in Development (WEPD) project is being implemented. These women are aspiring leaders who had shown good leadership qualities and occupied community leadership positions such as leading in School development committees (SDC), Health Centre Committees (HCC), Ward Development Committees (WADCOs) and Village Development Committee (VIDCOs).
The trainings saw women, women with disabilities and young women from different political and socio-economic backgrounds converging online to be capacitated with skills and knowledge on 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 mobilization strategies, Resilience Building and social accountability, Public speaking and mastering the art of convincing audiences.
The 50 aspiring women leaders who were trained under the TOT are now going to train 50 aspiring women leaders each in their respective communities to bring the total of aspiring women leaders equipped with leadership skills to 2500 in Mutasa district. This will ensure an increase in the number and quality of women leaders occupying leadership positions by 2023 towards the enhancement of gender equality and development in communities.
iv) Voter registration through WALANS in Mutasa.
First time registered voters pose with their voter registration slips…
A total of 34 women from remote Mutasa showed their determination to have their voices heard through the ballot after they defied all odds and registered to vote from 16-20 August 2021. Despite going through a rigorous exercise of commuting long distances with 24 of them having to acquire identification particulars first, the women were determined to be added to the voters roll. They successfully completed both exercises: acquiring identification particulars and registering to vote under the 2.2 Million Votes For Women From Women campaign.
The 34 first-time women voters were from the eight wards that the WALPE, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT) and Mutasa Youth Forum (MYF) are implementing the WEPD project. This registration process is to ensure that more women are able to vote and will in turn vote for women candidates from across the political divide in the 2023 elections. The voter registration campaign is an on-going process targeting female first time voters.
v) WALPE conducted virtual inception meetings under the #LetsGo5050 project in three districts.
Under the #LetsGo5050 gender equality campaign, the WALPE with support from Diakonia hosted three virtual project inception meetings with stakeholders from Gwanda, Mabvuku, and Masvingo rural. This was a chance to engage traditional and religious leaders, local authorities, political parties, men, women, and youth in the area to ensure successful implementation of the project. A total number of 120 people attended the inception meetings. In all the three areas, stakeholders showed enthusiasm to embark on the project and provide enormous support to the WALPE team once activities start running. All the participants successfully logged into the zoom platform and actively contributed what they would do to spread the gender equality agenda.
v) Transformative Feminist Leadership trainings.
120 aspiring women leaders from Mabvuku, Harare were trained in Transformative Feminist Leadership under the #LetsGo5050 project which is supported by Diakonia. A further 200 from Seke and Epworth under the Women Empowered for Participation in Electoral Processes (WEPEP) project supported by the Netherlands Embassy were also trained between July and August 2021. The women were drawn from different political and social backgrounds and were equipped with knowledge on: 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 mobilization strategies, Resilience Building and social accountability, Public speaking and mastering the art of convincing audiences. This is a part of efforts towards building a movement of quality aspiring women leaders with the necessary skills to successful hold and maintain leadership roles. The women also managed to use the zoom platform despite slight network disruptions. The use of IT by women leaders is instrumental in ensuring that they are also able to utilize social media platforms to enhance their political careers.
vi) Reflections on the Zambia national elections.
The WALPE Executive Director having a discussion with the now VP for Zambia on election day.. Here she is learning more about the sample parallel vote tabulation (PVT) that was conducted in Zambia….
|Webinar series on Zambia hosted by WALPE, ERC and SAHRDN pre and post-election period… The WALPE in collaboration with the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)where part of election observers in the just ended Zambian elections in which the main opposition stalwart Hakainde Hichilema secured victory over incumbent President Edgar Lungu. The election was held on 12 August 2021. The observer mission gave WALPE a chance to reflect on women participation in leadership at local and national level juxtaposing it to the Zimbabwean situation. It was worrisome to note that both Southern African states still have a serious challenge of women underrepresentation at all stages of governance. This was reflected in the ratios of women to men that field as presidential candidates where out of the 16 male presidential candidates only one was a woman. However, on a positive note because Zambia still maintains the running mate clause which was arbitrarily cancelled in Zimbabwe with the passing of Constitutional Amendment Number 2, the new vice president is now Ms. Mutale Nalumango, President Hichilema’s running mate. This should give Zimbabwe an urge to rethink removal of the running mate clause which has proven to be a huge leap towards increasing women participation in leadership and decision making processes. WALPE Executive Director, Ms. Sitabile Dewa had an opportunity to meet with Ms. Nalumango who imparted her knowledge on increasing women participation and pledged to work with the women’s movement towards enhancing gender parity. Some of the key lessons learnt from the Zambia elections are that:|
Ø Eradication of electoral violence is key to women participation in elections and gender justice organizations such as the Non-Governmental Gender Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) were instrumental in the safeguarding of peace in communities.
The security of women who participate in elections is just as important as the security of the vote itself.
Respect of state institutions is key in enabling smooth transitions in Africa.
#LetsGo5050 #LetsGo5050 #LetsGo5050