By Martin Mawaya
Traditional leaders in Lower Gweru, Vungu Constituency have called upon society to embrace gender equity as the cornerstone for sustainable development.
Speaking at a Peace and Security Engagement meeting organized by Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), Village Head for Makepesi, Sibukisiwe Mautso said “addressing gender imbalance is essential for economic transformation. It fosters sustainable development at the local community level as well as enables both men and women to be equally involved and participate in the mainstream economy”.
She said WCoZ’s engagement with community leaders enlightened them on the role women play in peacebuilding.
“The stakeholder engagement helped us to understand the role played by women in economic
development and reconciliation processes. It has provided space to interrogate issues that will help to uplift women,” said Village head Mautso.
The Village Head added that in rural areas women suffer from harmful social practices.
“In rural areas, we have challenges that stem from cultural social norms, stigma, and discrimination that hinders women from participating productively in nation building. Socially constructed narratives are suppressing women’s voices in rural areas.
“Our male counterparts dominate in positions of influence and it’s worse at grassroots levels, hence, there is a need to fine-tune our policy framework so that they support the cause of women,” she said.
Another traditional leader, Emmanuel Makula said there is a need for Civic Society Organizations (CSOs) to constantly engage with community leaders as they can easily influence decisions at grassroots levels.
“It’s good that the program started with the community leaders because they play a critical role in shifting deep-rooted beliefs and harmful practices that reinforce patriarchy.
“We now have tools and a clear picture about issues of equity and equality. The task before us is to educate our subjects that women are torch bearers and plays an important role in development. They have a right to own land as well as make family decisions. They are peace initiators hence round table discussions to build knowledge are important.
“However, we need continuous engagement programs of this nature so that the local leadership will be kept abreast with emerging policy frameworks that support peace and women empowerment,” he said.
WCoZ Gweru Chapter Chairperson Nozipo Rutsate highlighted that women’s participation in all spheres of the economy is a prerequisite of democracy and development, as such community leadership involvement will help to change people’s attitude towards women” #The Sun