Women’s Institute for Leadership Development on Wednesday shutdown the women’s month through an online discussion on the achievements of women from the arts, politics, public leadership, sports, and STEM sectors. The 12-hour long Twitterview conducted by WILD in partnership with Culxure Mag was on everyone’s lips and kept fingers clicking as it topped Twitter trends, settling at the top two trends in Zimbabwe under the #SheLeads.
This demonstrated the high volumes of interaction on women’s issues with particular attention to women’s ability to occupy leadership positions at distinct spheres of influence. The Twitterview provided a platform for women to discuss the different challenges and experiences they face in their different sectors.
Participants included Sikhululekile Moyo, Bulawayo Ward 17 Councillor who stated that patriarchy and long-standing culture of polygamy are the main reasons that gave her courage to undertake her political journey. Councilor Moyo said that in order for the country to improve on gender equality, there should be balanced representation in all governmental and or institutions.
“More importantly, women should not be appointed in boards to fill up numbers. Women’s voices ought to be heard, respected, and treated as equal players in decision making, said Councillor Moyo.
Another politician who graced the virtual event was Honourable Tatenda Mavetera, who is a Member of Parliament (MP) for Seke Chikomba Constituency and Assistant Speaker in Parliament. She highlighted the misfortunes that discourage women from participating in politics and any other leadership position.
Honourable Mavetera emphasized on the need to allocate resources towards capacitating women to get involved in politics, legal provisions that push political parties to give political nomination lists which are gender sensitive.
“More awareness and training for women to get into politics will pave a way for more women to contest in these positions,” she said.
During the day-long Twitterview, Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bemoaned lack of inclusion and gender bias as setbacks for women highlighting that this is why women in science account for less than 30% of the workforce.
“More female role models and women in leadership positions will allow young women and girls to aspire to step into the field and dare to dream,” said Vickie Ngono, the Executive Director at Girls in STEM.
Ngono highlighted that women are socialized to believe that they are nurturers and any aspirations of breaking into a male space is regarded as domineering.
Also present for the Twitterview was Samkeliso Mabharani, a Cyber Security and Software Engineer who echoed Ngono’s sentiments citing that women face a number of challenges which include the gender pay gap and discrimination in hiring.
“I have to consistently prove I can do the job and can produce quality results, to make sure I am heard and not sidelined so that I am not intimidated by being the only woman in the room. I have to set the tone for how I want to be treated.”
Mabharani encouraged women to continue pursuing their dreams and never to be apologetic for choosing to occupy spaces that are least dominated by their peers.
Manurse Ndlovu a renowned journalist, content creator, voice over artist and radio producer with SkyzMetro FM described women as superwomen who should balance work and family as both need 100% effort and focus.
Manurse advised young female to focus on what matters in order for them to achieve the best. Ndlovu said that responsible girls should not play blame game but should get up and dust themselves and work.
Pat Phiri who is a talk show host for Queening With The Empress applauded social media for presenting opportunities for women to be heard. She encouraged women to stand firm for who they are and what they believe in as a way of rising to claim the political spaces. She provided tips for social media use highlighting that women should only posts what is relevant to what they want to achieve and added that women should guard their privacy.
Sharing their stoires from the perspective of women in spirts, Tracy Ndlovu and Lietta Jacobs who are sports Journalists, highlighted that despite infiltrating the sports sector and doing well, women have not been accorded as much recognition as men citing the example of the women’s netball team who in 2019 qualified for the pre-tournament but were not as recognized and celebrated as the football team which recently qualified for the AFCON tournament.
“As the media we can do more to cover women in sports, corporates are not doing more in supporting women teams and some sports associations do not value women teams that much”
Jacobs and Ndlovu encouraged women in the sports sector to strive to be the best in sports, to keep moving forward, challenge themselves, work together and defy the odds in the sports sector.
Lady Tshawe and Rudo Amor who are in the arts sector acknowledged the role of women in the growth of the arts industry and also encouraged them to take up leadership roles.
“Despite women having played a big role in the arts sector there is need to have more women taking up influential roles in the industry to achieve gender balance,” said Rudo Amor.
Lady Tshawe advised women to stand together, help each other, be the voice for the voiceless, embrace opportunities, be courageous
“Artists should let their work speak out for its self, they should create new markets, have collaborations, and aggressive sales and marketing strategies,” she said.
Sharing her journey in the arts sector, Sandra Ndebele highlighted that she began as a theatre student at Mpopoma High School and went to Iyasa where she refined her skills and launched her solo career.
“You need to have a clear vision of what to do and why you want to do it! Then comes passion, dedication, hard work, collaborators and a thick skin!” she said.
WILD’s Programmes Manager Permanent Ngoma highlighted that the organisation is conducting a Leadership Mentoring School for aspiring leaders to equip them with key leadership skills.
“It is important for women to take up leadership position because women constitute more than half of the country’s population and it is important that they be represented in decision making so as to promote gender equality,” said Ngoma.
WILD is a women’s organisation that seeks to see inclusive, open and resilient societies for women and girls and operates in Bulawayo, Umzingwane, Plumtree, Gwanda and Lupane.
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