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Joanna Kerr visits Zimbabwe as women join the “One Billion Rising Campaign”

Rural women from Local Development Programmes (LDPs) in Zimbabwe had a lifetime opportunity on 14 February 2013 to meet with ActionAid International Chief Executive Officer Joanna Kerr.  The women who were from six LDPs namely, Hwedza, Chiendambuya, Makoni, Nyanga, Saunyama and Nyamaropa, joined the CEO in “dancing” in solidarity with a billion other women worldwide as part of the  commemoration of the “One Billion Rising” Campaign which seeks to reject violence against women and girls. Hwedza LDP is in Mashonaland Province of Zimbabwe while the rest of the LPDs where the women came from are from Manicaland.

The 14th February marked the 15th Anniversary of the global “One Billion Rising” Campaign where women across the globe acted in solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers and call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until gender based violence stops.

Globally, according to the “One Billion” Campaign, one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. In Zimbabwe, as a result of the patriarchal nature of the society, women are affected by gender based violence than men. Women are mainly under attack in their homes and society in general. They face sexual, physical, emotional, psychological and socio-economic violence. Cultural and traditional practices have perpetuated the subservient position of women which makes them more vulnerable.

“Let’s join hands together and work to bring food on the table as women,”  the women, who are part and parcel of Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) structures in their communities, sang and danced and encouraged each other to economically empower themselves in order to stop gender based violence. 

Women in LDPs in Zimbabwe have since 2010 received various skills on entrepreneurship, advocacy and lobby, value addition, conservation farming and treating farming as a business as part of the ActionAid International Zimbabwe (AAI Zimbabwe) RWA programme. RWA is a coalition of grassroot women farmers which is aimed at amplifying the voices of grassroot women farmers to speak with one voice to influence processes at local and international levels.  Although the women have received various skills under RWA, the woman said they were having challenges with marketing their farming produce. 

Responding to the marketing challenges facing the women, Joanna encouraged the women to use the RWA platform and come together to form cooperatives to enable them to market their produce as well as facilitate sourcing subsidised seed prices.

Joanna, whose visit in Zimbabwe  was from 13-15 February 2013, had meetings with selected AAI funding partners, ActionAid International Zimbabwe staff at head office in Harare and LDP offices in Rusape, Makoni District in Manicaland Province, LRP staff and the rural women from the various LDPs. She also had meetings with government of Zimbabwe officials which included the director for Social Services Department and Acting Provincial Administrator for Manicaland Province where the bulk of the AAI Zimbabwe LDPs are situated. 

The objectives of the CEO visit to Zimbabwe were:  To facilitate linkages and networks that will assist AAI Zimbabwe in fundraising and policy engagement at national and international levels; Acquaint all staff to recent developments within the federations and how they impact on country programmes with the expected outcome of having a shared understanding and appreciation by staff on AAI context  and to understand LDPs work in Zimbabwe and engage on how best practices can be shared across the federation.

Editors' notes

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