Gweru– Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ)’s Young Women Forum (Midlands chapter) recently engaged with office bearers in Gweru in efforts to promote involvement of young women in governance issues.
The engagement was meant to seek developmental initiatives to uplift women in communities.
Speaking on the side lines of the engagement, WCoZ Gweru chapter chairperson Nozipho Rutsate said young women were worried about their participation in governance issues.
“As the young women cluster under WCoZ, today we have thought of engaging our councillors and seek clarity on service provision and available opportunities for young women to participate in governance issues.
“As a chapter, our biggest worry remains that of young women’s involvement in decision making processes. We want young women to be involved in developmental projects and all programmes which concern their welfare. So we seek to understand what council has done to enable the involvement of young women in governance issues,” she said.
She added that as young women they once wrote to council to acquire stands but failed to get feedback from the local authority.
“We once wrote to council seeking for stands as young women. Women don’t have resources but we saw it fit that if we are incorporated onto the waiting list, at least if something comes up we can then do something or save monies from our hustles in order to purchase the stands.
“Upon writing, we then waited for feedback but it didn’t come, quiet a number of young women applied to get the stands but no reply came. This was done before the Covid-19 era. So we may also want to understand where we are now with this issue,” she added.
Gweru city council finance committee chairperson and ward 4 councillor Martin Chivhoko said there was need for young women through their WCoZ local leadership to do follow ups on some of the issues.
“Let me urge you as young people (women) to do a follow up on the issue of stands since you said you wrote to the local authority. This will help you to check if any progress was done in line with your stands plea.
“The challenge we have with young women is still the same, young women are not participating in most developmental initiatives. During ward meetings, young women are not forth coming. Ward meetings are open to all residents including the youths and these meetings are non-partisan because they are developmental. We want you to assume positions in ward committees. At the moment we don’t have any provisions which enable us to leave seats for young people, rather those who are selected are usually the ones who would have attended the meeting when the committee is selected.
“So as young women you can as well lobby council to set aside two seats which can be reserved for you. Once you do so, council can then sit and look into your plea, if it succeeds then it is passed as a resolution,” he said.
Chivhoko further said it was important for young women to engage council and outline their plea on recreational facilities.
“The issue of recreational facilities is the same as with that of youth participation. If you don’t speak out, we won’t know the facilities you want, we rather think all is well. We have facilities such as Gafa grounds but am sure they accommodate more outdoor sporting activities for men than women,” he added.
A member of the Young Women Forum in Gweru, Sharon Chipadza said young women do not have enough recreational facilities which suit their needs.
“As young people we don’t have adequate facilities to keep us active and busy. We believe council invested more in facilities for men than women, that is the same with community halls, we can’t use these facilities as council have commercialised them. We cannot organise or venture into clubs as young women as such infrastructure is being used for business purposes,” she said.
Responding to young women’s involvement in governance and politics ward 13 councillor Catherine Mhondiwa said most young women are failing to claim political leadership spaces due to fear.
“I can safely say women’s involvement is of paramount importance in the socio- developmental aspect of every community. I want to take this opportunity to encourage young women to fight for leadership spaces, don’t be intimidated or look down upon yourself, you can do it.
“We don’t want a situation where we only have one female councillor always, come on board and claim spaces. The challenge which I then discovered is most young women give a lot of excuses as to why they cannot be part of most local engagements. Then on the issue of thematic committee, yes we once engaged young women and some were appointed into the committees, so we were then affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.
“We could not continue meeting physically. As a result some of the meetings were put on hold and now that things are back to normal, I think that issue can be moved forward and through the Mayor a way forward can be availed,” she said.
Gweru Urban Member of Parliament Brain Dube however promised to move motions in parliament that support women participation in governance so as to leave no one behind.