In light of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) held an online meeting that was aimed at training gender champions to identify advocacy issues affecting young women in Bulawayo as well as developing a strategy to tackle the challenges they face.
The orientation was conducted by Nomqhele Siziba, on a WhatsApp group as an initiative to promote physical distancing.
Young women were taken step by step through the advocacy process. Some of these steps included:
Young women were initially taught how advocacy is a process which can be done directly by those affected by injustice or on their behalf by interested parties or by a combination of both. They came around to discuss what advocacy entails and how it should be strategically done.
Advocacy issues raised
Young women came up with a list of advocacy issues from their communities. This gave them a forum for prioritization of key issues. These included:
1. Expensive sanitary wear.
2. Reusable pads not sustainable with the water crisis.
3. Forced marriages.
4. Lack of financial resources for formal and informal education.
5. Unplanned and child / teen pregnancies.
6. Youth Centres no longer serving their empowerment purpose; now commercialised.
7. Lack of employment and other economic opportunities.
8. Prostitution and sexual exploitation because of poverty.
9. Pressure from society to get married.
10. Child headed families leading to school drop outs.
Identifying Advocacy strategy
Young women agreed on identifying strategies to encompass the issues that they listed. The gender champions were encouraged to adopt practical advocacy strategies which will further help their campaign by following these questions:
1. Which specific community to focus on?
2. What are the causes and effects of the issue i.e. lack of formal and informal education for young women.
3. Which policy makers are we going to engage?
4. What is the proposed solution?
Advocacy is never complete before the goals have been achieved and the objectives have been successfully addressed. The champions were urged to always follow up on outstanding issues in order to get results.
Young women also outlined the challenges that they usually face when trying to advocate for effective service delivery in their communities.
Siziba urged young women to stay consistent in identifying key advocacy issues so as to support the growing communities.
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