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Gokwe women pave the way, taking leadership positions in local council

Ephraim Munhuwei

In recent years, the Gokwe Town Council has witnessed male dominance, particularly in administrative roles. The majority of council duties were centralized among male workers, including the majority of male students employed as attach├ęs. To address this, Nyaradzo Sibanda, the Gender Champion of Gokwe Town Council, initiated efforts to achieve gender balance in terms of representation and responsibilities.

Among the 105 workers, Sibanda successfully augmented the number of women in order to promote gender equality within the council. Out of the 69 permanent workers at Gokwe Town Council, 42 are men, while 27 are women.

To further enhance gender balance, Sibanda recruited 12 students on attachment, of whom 10 are girls and two are boys. Additionally, there are 11 graduate trainees, with 7 girls and 4 boys. Furthermore, there are 16 contract workers, two of whom are females. These measures resulted in a total of 46 female workers at Gokwe Town Council.

Sibanda stated that historically Gokwe council has been dominated by male workers only, but this has to change now so that women also get the same chance. She also paid tribute to former Deputy Chairperson Charity Mungwani who she described as the pioneer of the gender balance initiatives within the council.

“Gender balance in the Gokwe Town Council was initiated by the former Deputy Chairperson, Charity Mungwani, during her five-year term. We still regard her as our guiding figure in Gokwe, as she represented women in various activities aimed at bridging the gender inequality gap that previously existed within the council.”

“Historically, most jobs were given to male workers, as Gokwe Town Council was dominated by men. However, under our leader’s guidance, we are breaking the cycle of male domination and promoting gender equality and equity,” she said.
The introduction of the women’s local authority quota system this year proved to be a valuable tool in achieving better representation for women in the Gokwe Town Council. In the recent election, only one female candidate was successful in securing a seat in one of the six local wards through the ballot.

This election outcome exposed the need for further efforts to improve gender balance within local authorities and parliament. With only one woman running for office in the August 23 election, it highlighted the significant gender inequality gap in politics. Agnes Jumo, who represented the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party.

However, thanks to the quota system, two additional women were able to secure seats in the GTC chambers. While the quota system has succeeded in increasing the number of available seats for women, it has not fully addressed the issue of encouraging more women to actively participate in competitive politics.

Agnes Jumo, the elected Councillor for Ward 3, expressed her gratitude for the quota system as it ensures that Gokwe women are represented in the council. She also pledged to support and empower these women workers within the Council to effectively represent the interests of women in Gokwe Town.

“It is crucial for women in Gokwe Town to have representation within the council. As the elected Councillor, I am committed to assisting these women in the Council to fulfill their roles as representatives for women in Gokwe Town,” stated Councillor Jumo.

She continued by emphasizing that although the number of women in the council may be small, they are still council workers who are equal to their male counterparts and should therefore play an equal role.

“They should also be aware that they are council workers, just like their male counterparts, and they need to contribute equally. I will ensure that these council workers receive proper training so that they are fully equipped to fulfill their duties,” stated Jumo.

Councillor Beauty Hera, representing the Woman’s Quarter, expressed her commitment to working with the women councilors to promote women’s representation by initiating projects that benefit women.

“Women’s representation is crucial, especially considering that Gokwe is an underdeveloped area. One of our goals is to demonstrate the difference between electing a man and a woman. We will ensure that our representation of women is not only on paper but also a reality that is lived through projects that directly benefit women. It is high time we start and lead projects that benefit women, such as establishing a medical center for breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as other feminine-related diseases,” she said.

Former Ward 5 councillor, Charity Mungwani, expressed her gratitude that the women’s quota system came to their rescue by giving women a chance to represent them in the council.

“We are delighted that the government has promoted women’s representation in Gokwe Town through the quota system. We are hopeful that these women will work towards empowering women through various projects, such as baking, poultry farming, agriculture, and sewing. We are excited and optimistic that these women will implement policies that reduce domestic violence in our community,” said Mungwani.

Currently, Gokwe Town Council only has one female Councillor, Agnes Jumo, who was elected through the ballot. The women’s quota system played a vital role in providing an opportunity for women to be represented in the council.

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