The three women were keyed up for positions and besides facing cultural downbeats they never gave up till the 31st of July 2013. Through the empowerment programme we managed to train these candidates in the Matebeleland candidates training programme where the women got strengthened campaign management skills, working with the media as well as funds mobilization. Women rallied behind the candidates radically. After the 2013 harmonized elections one of the candidates, Judith Sibanda managed to win the elections, breaking new ground, becoming the first female councillor in Binga since independence. These women challenged discrimination of women that is rooted in cultural beliefs against female leadership in the area. After the elections the newly elected councillor participated in induction workshops to capacitate her together with other elected councillors on grooming, leadership, confidence building and personal empowerment. Under the Womankind project, we established a Ward Consultative Forum (WCF)* in ward 24 for councillor Sibanda. The WCF members are working tirelessly to prove to the Binga community that women are a force to be reckoned with. So far the WCF members have achieved a lot of progress in terms of participation in leadership, 4 of the women have already acquired leadership positions in the community and 1 has acquired a regional leadership position. The women are working well together, putting aside political affiliations, supporting each other including voting for each other for community decision making structures leadership positions. The women are showing evidence of increased confidence, articulating women’s rights well and holding leaders accountable through engaging relevant service providers with various community concerns and seeking feedback. The WCF structure has presented an opportunity for women to work together, start economic empowerment endeavors and discussing issues of concern to women as women. Pertaining to leadership one of the WCF members noted that the opportunities are slowing them down, they would have taken all positions through the support they are giving each other, they can barely wait for opportunities for voting in women in their ward and district. * WCF is an instrumental tool in promoting women’s participation in leadership at local level. The ‘women only’ space has not only been a platform for discussing community development but also a learning forum for aspiring women leaders.
Binga women break new ground
Since Zimbabwe attained its independence in 1980 there has never been a female councillor or female candidate for either Local Government or Parliament, from Binga.
Through the empowerment workshops and trainings we meet a total of 23 women, who showed interest in taking up these seats during the 2013 year harmonized elections. The majority of them failed to stand as candidates due to various reasons, these including lack of proper documents and late submission of CVs and voter registration in the area of residents. Among the women interested in taking up political office three managed to get through to the primary elections, nomination court and the elections. The other women we met have however not given up, they have taken the opportunity as a learning curve to prepare for the 2018 elections and are already preparing for the next elections.