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Women spearhead door to door peace and social accountability awareness campaigns in Masvingo

Women from Zaka, Bikita and Gutu embarked on  door to door campaigns  between 20-23 May 2017 raising awareness on the importance of mainstreaming peace and gender. The women leaders who are part of the Heal Zimbabwe Community Accountability Action Teams (CAATs) targeted fellow women and men in their communities and shared ideas and information on the need to promote peace in their areas and also hold duty bearers to account. The women who received training from HZT in democracy, governance, social accountability and peace in the past have been instrumental in organising and mobilising communities to demand accountability from duty bearers. The CAATs have also mobilised other women to actively participate in democratic and developmental processes in their areas.

A CAAT is a safe space group of women and youths from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace and demand social accountability from duty bearers. HZT established eight CAATS, in Gutu (4), Bikita (2) and Zaka (2). A total of 550 community members (350 women and 200 men) were reached through the door to door campaigns. As a target lobbying and advocacy strategy, the CAATs also reached out to 20 community leaders who include 8 village heads, 3 Headmen, 2 councillors and 7 School Development Committee (SDCs) members and interfaced with them on the challenges affecting their respective communities.

The door to door exercises are part of HZT’s strategy of reaching out to women in spaces they spend most of their time in. This was after realising that most women do not attend public platforms as they would be attending to their day to day home activities hence the need to bring the information closer to them. The initiative was welcomed by many women who raised several issues that hinder them from actively participating in governance, democracy and development. Some of the challenges include harassment and intimidation by political activists, limited opportunities to interact with duty bearers, men dominating public platforms, and basic lack of information on human rights related issues.

The CAATs have intensified their work as the country is heading for a plebiscite in 2018. The women leaders are planning to organise community interface meetings with 2018 candidates from all political parties. The candidates shall be placed under scrutiny on what they promise to do for their communities once elected. Community members shall be given an opportunity to critique manifestos of the candidates. The CAATs shall make follow ups with the candidates once elected to find out progress towards fulfilling their commitments. This helps in assisting the electorate to vote from an informed position and also encourage transparent, accountable and responsible leadership.