Christine Musisi ESARO Regional Director in conversation with Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women's Parliamentary Caucus and also Chairperson of the G20
  • Christine Musisi ESARO Regional Director in conversation with Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women's Parliamentary Caucus and also Chairperson of the G20

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: Members of the Group of Twenty (G20) and senior female officers from the security sector are undergoing training on Transformational and Inclusive Leadership at Kingdom Hotel in Victoria Falls. Launched in April 2012 with the support of UN Women, the Group of 20 (G-20) is a strategic coalition of women comprising members of the Zimbabwe women’s parliamentary caucus, academics, gender equality and women’s rights activists, representatives from the national gender machinery, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development.

The G20 lobbied to ensure that Zimbabwe’s current Constitution delivers on gender equality and empowerment for women citizens in 2013. The group has a mandate to continue monitoring the implementation of the requirements of the Constitution on women’s rights and women’s empowerment. Zimbabwe is currently going through an important process of aligning the existing laws and policies to the Constitution, and the G20 has a key role to play in this process. The G20 was legally reconstituted by the Clerk of Parliament in October 2014, and will work under the mandate of the Parliament of Zimbabwe through the Women’s Parliamentary caucus. Senator Monica Mutsvangwa chairs the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus.

A four-member Kenyan delegation from the African Centre for Transformative Leadership (ACTIL), led by the UN Women Regional Director for the Eastern and Southern African Region (ESARO) Christine Musisi is in Zimbabwe to facilitate this workshop. Speaking at the official opening of this workshop yesterday, Christine Musisi hailed the abounding opportunities in Africa in terms of mineral resources and human capital, and encouraged women to positively exploit these for the attainment of Vision 2063. Calling on women to transcend mainstream leadership styles and set a lasting example of transformation leadership, Ms Musisi emphasised that women have a key role to play in shaping the socio-political and economic trajectories of their countries all round, and must work hard to bring themselves to the heart of the continent’s transformation.

“Africa is growing at an amazing rate and we own 40% of the world’s oil, 95% of platinum and 60% of unutilised arable land, which are all great opportunities for growth. Aid is not the solution to our problems, and we need to turn Africa from a begging to a giving and liberated continent. As women we must provide that new kind of transformational leadership that will catapult Africa to that point of a dynamic force in the global arena. We need leaders who can be a force of influence and commitment for the present generations and for the generations to come in order to break the current cycles of poverty. This is our time to reject an Africa that marries off girls below the age of 15, and that leaves women out of development processes, and embrace one that is ready to transform all citizens from the ‘I, me and myself’ to the collective. Ms Musisi bemoaned the day to day escalations of violence against women, which she said is costing African governments between 1-3% of GDP.

Speaking at the same occasion, the Vice Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus, Honourable Paurina Mpariwa bemoaned the fulfilment of the Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action on health, noting the high level of maternal mortality in the country.

“Women are dying giving birth in the homes owing to high hospital user fees.” Honourable Mpariwa called on women to open their eyes and be the nation’s watchdogs against corruption and ensure that disappearing resources are cultivated back into the economy for the attainment of women’s health needs. She urged women to transcend common differences and adopt collective responsibility to work for the growth of the nation. She noted that the forthcoming budgeting process as key for women, who must lobby government to allocate enough resources for women and children’s needs.

This special ACTIL course on Transformational Leadership exposes participants to the basics and nuances of leadership, conflict analysis and management, and provides a building block towards the strengthening of transformational leadership and conflict management skills for Zimbabwean women in politics and leadership. The platform also creates a safe space for dialogue, reflection, learning and shared experiences for women parliamentarians, women leaders from the security sector and women from civil society. As political leaders elsewhere, women politicians in Zimbabwe represent both their parties and their gender. In some cases, it has been notably difficult for women to transcend their political identities and positions. This has resulted in closure of spaces for dialogue between women from different political parties. Such a reality makes it necessary to undertake conflict management and resolution training towards facilitating tolerance, cooperation and acceptance in politics and governance.

The key facilitator of the training programme Florence Butegwa, Policy Advisor for the ESARO took the women of Zimbabwe through a participatory contextual mapping exercise. Using popular feminist education methodology, the women tracked the rise of the Zimbabwean women’s movement from the time of Mbuya Nehanda’s participation in the uprisings against Cecil John Rhodes’s invasions to the 2013 Constitution making process that catalysed the creation of 60 compulsory parliamentary seats for women. The programme continues today until Friday the 28th of November.

The programme is supported by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, (UN Women) in Zimbabwe under its 3 year Gender, Peace and Security Programme (GPS). The UN Women GPS programme was established in 2012, and focuses on the following interventions, and responds to the provisions outlined in the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security that provide a comprehensive political framework within which women’s protection and their role in conflict prevention and resolution can be addressed.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security, which was adopted in October 2000 underscores the importance of women’s active participation in politics and leadership. There is a rapidly growing global appreciation of the contribution that women make in leadership, development and peacebuilding. Within the current set up of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), women have been able to access critical positions and play crucial roles in peace and security issues on the continent. As such, the AU Commission has a Gender Policy that enunciates its commitment to ensuring a 50 – 50 representation in the organization and by extension influences its member countries and partners to adopt a gender-sensitive approach to their activities.

Admittedly, despite the robust normative architecture enunciated above, in Zimbabwe women’s participation in politics and leadership is still limited numerically and qualitatively. The country has undergone different phases regarding women’s political participation. On the one hand, it has been possible to observe a significant role performed by women in nation building and the setting up of democratic processes; on the other hand, however, recurrent political conflict coupled with exclusionary practices have led to a situation where evidence of women’s active participation has been weakened.

Against this background, this training programme provides a platform to strengthen collaborative relationships among women leaders with the aim to that facilitate transformative change, shared leadership and effective coalitions.

The workshop runs from 24-30 November 2014. The objectives include: 1. To strengthen skills, principles and values for transformational leadership 2. To develop competencies for critical analysis and structural transformation 3. To understand the critical role of women leaders and political systems in social transformation, particularly in promoting gender equality and empowerment for women and youth 4. To equip the participant with tools, including advocacy, communication, networking skills, and mentors, to facilitate application of what they have learned.