Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) conducted a CBO and Gender Champions Review and Planning meeting with representatives from Lupane, Gwanda Central, Bulawayo and Umzingwane. The meeting was aimed at planning and reviewing implementation of activities throughout the programming year in light of COVID-19.
The review meeting included four CBOs from Umzingwane, Bulawayo, Lupane and Gwanda who are being mentored by WILD under the Promoting Civil Society Engagement in local government policies and decision-making processes in Matabeleland Region supported by Diakonia and the European Union. As part of the gains of the previous year of implementation, CBOs in Lupane, Gwanda, Bulawayo and Umzingwane have managed to establish Gender Champions, providing advocacy training, identifying issues and being able to conduct stakeholder mapping in their respective areas.
The following issues were discussed based on the different areas:
Representatives from Sibanye Animal Welfare and Conservancy Trust cited the need to train target local authorities in Lupane (Lupane Local Board and Kusile Rural District Council) on gender responsive budgeting and social accountability so as to promote improved access to service delivery in Lupane.
Meeting attendees called for the training of local communities on the budget making process so that communities can effectively participate in council budget making cycle. This was raised upon realization that a lot of residents are not keen to participate in budget consultation meetings and often do not follow up on implementation of the budget or let alone track budget expenditure.
During the meeting, it was highlighted that there is need to increase community engagements in the area and priorities intergenerational exchange of ideas between women in leadership and aspiring women leaders within rural communities.
There continues to be increased gender imbalances for communities even at a time when the country is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to services remains challenging with women being the ones who suffer the worst effects such as spending hours on end at water queues and clinic queues.
It was also highlighted that women in the mining sector continue being victims of harassment and they should be encouraged to report these abuses to the local a police station so that perpetrators are brought to book. Women are failing to operate accordingly as they are constantly living in fear of being ill-treated in their work environment.
In addition, participants noted that consultations should be carried out with relevant stakeholders so that there can be an ease on the implementation of the current 5km radius Statutory Instrument on COVID-19 regulations as villagers are affected by the 5 km radius as they have limited grocery stores where they can buy food supplies.
Representatives from Youth Invest requested for the drafting a Gender Policy which will guide the operations of the organization and promote deliberate sensitivity to gender issues.
Gender Champions requested the for a budget tracking training to equip them on the pre-requisites of the local and national budget making process. This, they said will enable them to monitor the budget and demand accountability from their duty bearers.
More outreach programs on COVID-19 ought to be carried out in communities so that people can know how best they can protect themselves in light of the virus. These programs can either be held online or through small groupings which are in line with the COVID-19 regulations set out by the government.
In 2020, budget consultations were done later than expected with the community only being reached out to when the draft budget had already been sent to the central government. Currently water rates have been increased beyond the reach of many residents. To curb such from recurring, representatives from Esigodini Residents Association suggested a capacity building workshop for Rural Councils. More innovative income generating projects should be done for women who are in remote areas so that they can sustain their livelihoods amid the effects caused by COVID-19.
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