SAYWHAT joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Women’s Day, a day that we take time to reflect on the progress made in advocating for women’s rights as we aim to create an equal world for both women and men.
The theme for this year’s commemorations is, I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.
SAYWHAT takes this opportunity to celebrate its contribution to the progress made in the quest to create not only equal opportunities for the girl child but how we have advanced in attaining a gender sensitive and young women friendly environment in the country’s tertiary institutions and the Southern African Region.
Through our Web for Life Network, a movement for young women in Zimbabwe and the Southern African Region, we have mentored and nurtured young women into becoming advocates who are influential in their spaces. We have made strides in ensuring that young women are empowered to assume leadership positions within various spaces including Student Representative Councils in Institutions of Higher Learning.
We continue to be guided by the conviction that ‘nothing for the women can be done without them’. This position has shaped the programing vision within the organisation where women participation and involvement is regarded as a strategic necessity at all levels. Informed by that call, SAYWHAT’s National Coordinating Committee, which the highest decision is making body, has consistently been constituted of equal representation of males and females. The deliberate affirmative action approach has resulted in women taking up the chairperson position more often than before. In our various college and community structures, women have been key influencers, assisting the organisation in delivering gender sensitive programs that have transformed the Sexual and Reproductive Health landscape in the country and the region.
We also appreciate that the creation of an equal world is not only a woman’s issue but requires collective efforts of both males and females. To mainstream male involvement, the organisation created the Mugota/Ixhiba Young Men Forum, a platform for young men to dialogue on their Sexual and Reproductive Health issues but at the same time challenging each other to undo the inherent gender stereotypes and socio-cultural norms and values that undermine women as equal partners.
We pledge to continue making the tertiary institutions safe spaces for young women and to strengthen our programs and interventions to empower the girl child to address barriers to equality.
We acknowledge the existence of negative social cultural practices that continue to curtail attainment of the girl child’s dreams. Sexual harassment in colleges remains a key challenge that has robbed many young women of their freedoms and rights. Child marriages prevalence in the country remains high, with many young women failing to get good and basic education. These and other related challenges are a reminder to all stakeholders that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
More importantly, SAYWHAT believes that young women and girls are in themselves a resource. When mentored and nurtured with the appropriate skills they have the ability to support each other to lead better lives. SAYWHAT commits to achieving gender equality and women’s rights through mentoring and developing skills of young women and girls through its Big Sister Young Sister Initiative which aims to promote child protection rights among adolescent girls in schools and communities.
Without gender equality and women empowerment, societies will not be able to achieve Sustainable Development Goals that our country acceded to. Let us continue advocating for the realisation of women’s rights. An equal world is achievable, it begins with you and me. Together we can!
Happy International Women’s Day!