ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Woman speaks out on gender responsive public service

Hamunyari Nhika is a 45 year widow who lives in Ward 14 Chitungwiza, a town outside the capital city of Harare. She became a Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) volunteer in January 2015. ZWLA is an ActionAid partner.  Hamunyari is part of the groups that are working in their community engaging service providers for improved gender sensitive service provision which affects women’s safety in the public.

Hamunyari and her colleagues have been collaborating with the Chitungwiza Council committees for public works, health and housing since August 2016 on issues of community participation in the delivery of adequate service provision. This collaboration came into play as a result of a consultative meeting attended by ZWLA and the council committees’ chairpersons on community partners where the emphasis was on encouraging service providers to involve communities on service delivery issues.

Ever since Hamunyari and 47 other volunteers have been engaging with the council committees, the Zengeza 4, Chitungwiza community borehole which was non-functional for almost two years is now functional.

She said: There was congestion at the only borehole that was working in the ward and women would spend many hours from morning and into the night queuing to fetch water. Women would go back home late in the evening risking their safety. There were now people who were selling water. However, as a result of the repair of the other boreholes women now spend less hours and return to their homes to fend for their families.

Most women lack the confidence to approach and demand adequate service provision because of lack of knowledge and local accepted societal norms that see women failing to initiate change or challenge authority. We then asked Hamunyari how she managed to have such confidence and she attributed it to the training by ZWLA and ActionAid. She received training on women’s rights, gender responsive public services and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Community collaboration with the duty bearers has improved and Hamunyari had this to say: “The relationship with service providers has improved. We used have a negative perception about duty bearers and service providers but it has changed. In one of our meetings I received a call from my friend saying that the sewage pipe had burst in her area. I immediately told the city council public works representative who was present at the meeting and he immediately contacted his colleagues to fix the problem. My friend told me an hour later that the pipe was fixed”.

Gender responsive public services are essential in overcoming the conditions which render women and girls vulnerable to violence in public in public spaces. Hamunyari is one of the 48 volunteers lobbying and advocating for the eradication of violence against women in the public spaces in her community supported by ZWLA.