Economic Independence key to Women’s Effective Participation in Leadership

Women in Mutasa and Nyanga districts of Manicaland province hailed the value addition and market linkages trainings conducted by Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) and its collaborating partner African Women’s Initiative in Developing Economies (AWIDE). The trainings were held from 30 September to 04 October 2019. The inaugural value addition & market linkages trainings were attended by a total of 100 aspiring women leaders.

This exciting programme is the first of its kind targeting the participants. What makes it unique is that it draws its participants exclusively from women who are aspiring to take up elected positions in the public sector, community structures, schools, health centers and churches.

This group of women were first trained in transformational leadership and awarded certificates of accomplishment as a build up to the value addition and market linkages trainings. These further trainings are designed to enhance their economic function so they can effectively participate in the democratic processes and also take up leadership positions. This is because according to a baseline study conducted by the two organizations on the needs of women aspiring leaders conducted in August 2019, one of the major hindrances identified was lack of financial independence.

Therefore, the trainings are tailor made to address this challenge by equipping participants with skills to add value to their products and link them to lucrative markets so as to increase profitability. Through the trainings, the two organizations aim to increase the monthly income of the participants by 200% from the current average of US$30.00 they were getting from their income generating activities. The increased income will boost women’s confidence to fully participate in local leadership structures such as School Development Committees (SDCs) and Health Centre Committees (HCCs). The low level leadership positions are a perfect breeding ground for women to take up national leadership positions during by elections and harmonized plebiscites.

“This is a life changing opportunity for me, I did not know that I could make such quality products from my vegetables and sell them to markets in Mutare and even Harare. With the profits from my produce, I will definitely take up the post of Secretary general for the SDC,” said one of the participants who lost the position of SDC Secretary to a man in 2018.

Another participant who was a council primary election candidate in the run up to the 2018 elections jovially opined that; “as women with this kind of empowerment, men won’t bully us. We will definitely pursue our leadership dreams with courage and confidence.”

The consortium will continue with these trainings and scale them up to other districts across Zimbabwe as part of a leadership programme aimed at increasing the number and quality of women in leadership positions. The initiative empowers the individual woman leader in all relevant aspects to be able to participate actively and effectively in democratic processes.

Source: Women Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE)