Demotivated, down trodden and pessimistic groups of young women from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South never anticipated a possibility of ever finding platforms where they could have discussions with established leaders. All they were used to hearing were words which made them feel as individuals of low self-worth.
By Duduzile Mathema
However, the launch of the Mentorship Program has changed young women’s perspectives on leadership. Young women now believe they stand a chance of being successful public leaders as indicated during a two day Mentorship Program which was conducted by the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development Trust (WILD) from Thursday 29 June to Friday 30 June 2017. The theme of the Mentorship program was: “Today is the beginning of the rest of your life”.
Leaders who were called in as mentors comprised of female leaders from the business sector and various political parties such as Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU- PF), Movement for Democratic Change –Tsvangirai (MDC-T), Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), National People’s Party (NPP), and Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU). Individuals who were accepted into the mentorship program as mentees also came from a similar background both in politics and in business.
“You have the power to decide how far you can go. Look into the future to discover what else you can do to unleash that potential that is within you. If you want to succeed, strike out new paths. Don’t travel the worn out paths of accepted success,” said Dr Ruth Labode, a Member of Parliament for Matebeleland North.
“If you want to change the status quo, you are then considered as a people developer. People go into positions of leadership considering the things that they benefit from it. Instead we can do things differently by striving as much as possible in grooming a generation of servant leaders,” said Patience Phiri, a Bulawayo business person.
Women who attended the workshop were called upon to dare being different through choosing to be mentored by individuals who might be from a background or a political party that is different from theirs. Some held a belief that embarking on such an initiative will inspire change and growth amongst those who wish to be mentored.
Honourable Priscilla Misihairamwi Mushonga, a Member of Parliament for Matebeleland South testified that she is one person who benefitted from mentorship. She indicated that her mentor was a person who came from a different political party than the one that she belonged to.
Honourable Mushonga brought to light how choosing a mentor who belongs to a different political party can be valuable. Her testimony indicated that one can be free around a person who is from a different political grounding than her own.
She added that when faced with unbearable circumstances, it is easier to open up to one’s mentor because there tends to be minimised judgement. A person who watches from a distance was said to be honest than an individual within one’s territory.
The Mentorship program seeks to capacitate women so that there are more women leaders in society, to share cultural intelligence, to help participants to translate the learning into actual practice and to enable participants to travel the journey of leadership in a simpler way. The Mentorship Program is part of the Women Empowered for Public Leadership Project which was launched in March 2017.