Women and Men United To End Violence
The Sexual Rights Centre in partnership with various women’s organisations in Bulawayo commemorated the International Women’s Day seeking to integrate men into the struggle to uphold women’s rights including ending violence against women.
This year’s global theme for the International Women’s Day is “Women and men united to end violence against women and girls”.
The commemorations were held at the Small City Hall on the 7th of March starting with a march from TM Hyper on Herbert Chitepo at 0900 hours. Other activities included theatre performances, song, dance, music and poetry. Seven women from Bulawayo were honored for their outstanding contributions towards the cause of women. These are Essie Mtungwa (a dynamic woman who founded the Widows and Single Parents Association, a local NGO targeting widows, single parents and orphans. In her work, Essie has helped widows and single parents to run income generating project so that they are self-sustainable. Apart from imparting knowledge, Essie helps them to market their wares nationally and internationally. Essie also works closely with HIV positive women by helping them to fight stigma and discrimination. She is one of the first counsellors to be involved at CONTACT Family Counselling Centre), Sithandazile Dube (Poetry coach, writer and performer. She has worked with a number of local women’s organisations in Bulawayo to address women’s rights. She has worked on projects aimed at ending violence against women and girls and promoting sexual rights. Sithandazile is a co-founder of Art Connection Company, one of her local initiatives aimed at uplifting the status of women and giving them a platform and opportunity to fully express themselves and grow alongside their male counterparts. She is also a high school teacher working with young girls to enable them to be articulate, to build their confidence and self esteem), Betty Chiwambo (a dedicated HIV and AIDS activist who has worked tirelessly in assisting orphans and other vulnerable children and people living with HIV and AIDS. She is the founder of God Hope Orphan care, a community based organisation in Bulawayo. Betty is also the patron of Nketa 2 Kids club.), Nelly Mutavasi (is the chairperson of the Bulawayo province chapter of the Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) and has a passion for working with disadvantaged children. She went public about her HIV status and has since vigorously fought the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV in churches, burial societies and other public gatherings, Elizabeth Sibanda (many recognise Elizabeth from a poster about positive living that was produced by MSF. Her efforts in the HIV and AIDS awareness has seen a growth in the number of support groups for people living with HIV and AIDS in Bulawayo. She has helped a lot of women to get tested and to live positively. She spearheaded the formation of the Zimbabwe Women Network under ZNNP+. The Network now has a membership of more than 1000 women, Ivy Sibanda and Sizalobuhle Ncube (both are HIV activists in Bulawayo). These women were nominated by the ONANDI Women’s Festival Committee.
The ONANDI Women’s Festival, is a local initiative hosted annually to mark the International Women’ Day. This is the only women’s festival in Zimbabwe. It is an opportunity to celebrate womanhood and other women achievements in Zimbabwe. The ONANDI Women’s Festival is aimed at giving men and women in Bulawayo a chance to take stock, reflect, think ahead and move forward in ending violence against women and promoting women’s health. The ONANDI Women’s Festival is also an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change in upholding women’s rights. Other organisations that took an active role in this year’s commemorations include Musasa Project, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association, Matebeleland AIDS Council, Contact Family Counselling Centre, Jekesa Pfungwa/Vulinqondo and Youth for Today and Tomorrow.
International Women’s Day, which is on the 8th of March, is marked by a variety of activities such as information fairs, conferences, round table discussions and exhibitions
Since 1911, the international community has been joining hands to celebrate the achievements of women in the economic, political and social arena.
By Gertrude Pswarayi