Youth Invest Trust, a local organisation that seeks to empower youths and young women with lifelong skills, has capacitated close to 200 rural women in Hwange with skills to identify and address life’s challenges.
Youth Invest was established in 2018 and runs programmes in Chidobe and Kachechete wards, as well as Chewumba, Jambezi, Chisuma and Matetsi villages in Hwange Rural District Council where 180 women and youth have been trained.
Groups that have been trained include Thuthukani Women Action Group from Chidobe, Sikhona from Chewumba, Nyamukani from Jambezi, Kujatana from Chisuma and Lumuno from Matetsi.
The programme has been expanded to Binga in Manjolo where last week, members of the Lusumpuko Group attended a leadership workshop for committees to capacitate them with feminist leadership skills principles such as self-awareness, dismantling bias, inclusion, sharing power, responsible and transparent use of power, accountable collaboration and courage that was held in Victoria Falls.
In an interview, Youth Invest executive director Ms Nomqhele Siziba said the programme is called amplifying women’s voices post Covid-19 and is supported by the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa.
The programme started in 2020 and is now in the second phase looking at protection of women’s rights through a gender lensed preparedness for future pandemics.
The target group are women and youths in hard to reach communities where a number of factors such as distance from urban areas, language and terrain are a barrier to development.
“We selected these areas mainly because that is where need is greatest. They are away from urban areas and the bulk of programmes hardly reach them hence they are kind of marginalised.
“There are also issues of language which some consider as minority and shun having programmes there because of the language barrier. That’s why you see we are slowly penetrating Binga and we are waiting to start programmes there as well,” said Ms Siziba.
Few organisations also have active programmes to address gender related issues such as gender based violence, access to social amenities and services and health.
Ms Siziba said the programme targets both youth and women and 180 had been impacted on in the selected Hwange communities.
She said the idea is to make young women understand the dynamics of GBV before they even get married.
The organisation also works with traditional leaders in the selected communities to sensitise people on GBV issues and pandemics, especially focusing on how Covid-19 impacted the social structure.
Last week’s leadership seminar was attended by three representatives of committees from each targeted group, as a follow-up to orientation and sensitisation meetings done in the first phase of the programme.
Mrs Mariya Moyo from Thuthukani group said they had learnt about women’s rights and how to interact and counsel survivors of GBV and other forms of violence.
Ms Loveness Ncube a member of Kujatana said she had been empowered to identify and report abuse
“We have been enlightened to even assist those in need of help out of abusive environments,” she said.
Ms Laina Dube from Lusumpuko group said the programme will enhance development and uplift women and the girl child and ultimately reduce cases of gender based abuse.