Heal Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Rural Women. The United Nations international Day of Rural Women celebrates and honours the importance of rural women in enhancing agriculture and rural development. Commemorations for this year are running under the theme, “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID 19”.The Theme seeks to strengthen rural women’s sustainable livelihoods and wellbeing.
In the wake of COVID 19, rural women continue to play key roles in agriculture, food security, nutrition, peace building and natural resource management. Heal Zimbabwe acknowledges that women are major players in ensuring community development. They play an important role in peace building right from the home to the society at large. Heal Zimbabwe works with diverse groups of rural women all around Zimbabwe and has established Women Safe Spaces for Reconciliation (WSSR), platforms for women of different age groups, backgrounds and political persuasions where they meet fortnightly to discuss pertinent issues that affect them specifically as women. The organisation has also created Community Accountability Action Teams (CAAT) responsible for human rights awareness and also works to demand for social accountability and good governance within their communities. These structures have created platforms where women engage duty bearers and policy makers on a wide range of issues that include food security, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and health among other issues.
To commemorate International Day of Rural Women, a CAAT established by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe in Zaka conducted a community dialogue with duty bearers to discuss “GBV and Food security ahead of the 2020-21 farming season”. Women lamented the politicization of the Pfumvudza input scheme and highlighted that Agricultural extension officers were at the forefront in ensuring that some cross section of the community does not benefit from the programme.”Some Agricultural Extension Officers are politicizing the distribution of the Pfumvudza inputs.Goverment must ensure that there is no discrimination during the distribution process”, said one participant. The Pfumvudza concept by government is a programme designed to ensure that farming at a higher standard is made possible from a small area of land. Other issues that came out include the reduction in cases of GBV owing to campaigns by the CAAT in partnership with other stakeholders.
As a way forwad, the dialogue meeting resolved that the CAAT was supposed to convene a meeting with the Agricultural Extension Officers and other stakeholders such as the Legislator and Councillors to tackle partisan distribution of the Pfumvudza inputs. On the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women, Heal Zimbabwe calls on the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) to decentralise its activities so that rural women can also participate actively.