Women’s Garden in Zaka Evolves into a Safe Space for Women and a Platform for Dialogue and Conflict Mediation

Kutatarika Community Accountability Action Team (CAAT), established by women working with Heal Zimbabwe operates a nutritious garden in Zaka Ward 19 which provides local women with a sustainable alternative income to male-controlled household income and a physical safe space for women and girls to discuss issues affecting themselves free from interference by men. This garden was created as a product of community dialogue to address the causes of a spike in sexual and gender-based violence in Ward 19. The garden currently benefits 47 women drawn from different socio-economic and political backgrounds in Ward 19 and Ward 18.

Maximizing on the fact that diverse duty bearers took part in the conflict analysis exercise which culminated in the creation of the garden, Kutatarika CAAT constantly invites community duty bearers including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Women Affairs, health and the local government to engage on issues affecting women. These engagements have helped women in Ward 19 to influence the distribution of Pfumvudza Presidential Agricultural Inputs, food aid, and seek answers on current shortages of medication in local clinics. The group also received two water tanks and a pump from local well wishers who appreciated the role that the women are playing in championing women’s economic emancipation and participation in local governance and social service delivery processes.

Kutatarika Women Safe Space has also made strides in mediating conflicts in the area. On 14 September 2020, the Women Safe Space managed to resolve a conflict which had emanated between itself and a local Village Head. The Village Head wanted to close the garden, stating that most of the women who were participating in the garden were no longer involved in the activities of a local Community Burial Society. Kutatarika engaged the local Headman and also invited the community to participate in a dialogue to resolve the matter. It came out during the dialogue that woman stopped paying subscriptions to the burial society after there were allegations of abuse of money. After broader consultations and engagements, the impasse was resolved. To date, women have resumed participating in the burial society and issues of accountability and transparency are being prioritised.The Women Safe Space also managed to elect some of its members into the Burial Society’s committee.

A CAAT is a group of 25 women and youths from diverse political and socio-economic backgrounds working together to build peace and demand social accountability from duty bearers. CAAT members were trained in conflict mediation, governance and social accountability.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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