IN Zimbabwe, women organisations are mushrooming with the purpose of dealing with issues which affect women and these range from domestic violence to forced marriages. But it seems as if they are not doing enough because the problems keep recurring day in and day out.
REPORT BY VIMBAI MARUFU
A young charismatic leader, Grace Wagoneka (23), formed her organisation called MuNhanga Affairs Forum which deals specifically with issues of early marriages, among other things.
MuNhanga Affairs Forum is a Harare-based organisation mainly for young women that was founded in November 2011.
Wagoneka is currently studying law at the University of Zimbabwe and is in her final year. She is also an alumnus of Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust where she received leadership training.
In a recent interview, Wagoneka said MuNhanga was established with the aim of empowering young women through curbing early marriages and advocating for their advancement in education and entrepreneurship.
“Our mandate is to ensure that girls are empowered by advancing their education and careers. We encourage them to venture into entrepreneurship.
“We envision a society in which women are well educated, assertive and competitive so as to curb leadership and economic gender imbalances as well as gender-based violence,” she said.
MuNhanga has been facilitating workshops with high school girls, educating them on many options available to them in life before getting married.
“We have noted that this is the age at which most of the early marriages are taking place and once one messes up at this stage, amending the mistakes may be difficult,” said Wagoneka.
Currently they are running a mentorship programmes with 10 girls from Kuwadzana and six from Highfield. They intend to mentor them up to university level.
“We are taking these girls through career guidance, goal setting and vision building until they reach a stage where they build better lives for themselves,” added Wagoneka.
MuNhanga has also been working with a lot of other organisations that include Musasa Project, Tega Together Sisonke Single Mothers Trust, Greatness Factory Trust, Zimbabwe Young Women Network in Peace Building, among others.
In partnership with Musasa Project, Tega Together Sisonke Single Mothers Trust and Mbare community, MuNhanga commemorated this year’s 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence in Mbare at an event entitled “Mothers for peace”.
Speaking at the event, Aretha Mare (32), a member of the MuNhanga Affairs Forum said women should aid in peace building especially as the nation is nearing elections.
“As mothers of peace, we are encouraging women that as we approach election time, let us be pioneers of peace building as we commemorate the 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence,” said Aretha Mare.
However, setting up the organisation has not been easy for the young lady for she started alone until recently when she was joined by two volunteers Mare and Chengetai Rwazemba.
“Setting up this organisation has not been easy for me because of lack of funds and people are not so keen to work where there is no money. But in the long run, I would like to start a business that will fund all the administration costs.
“Anyone is welcome to join the organisation. We do not have a membership model since we are just starting. Because of lack of funds, when we have a programme to inititate, we just cluster a group of volunteers to work with us for that particular programme.
“At the moment, we do not have any sponsors and I have been using money from my savings and some from my father,” said Wagoneka.
She added that with the help of God, she wanted to develop a girls’ development centre for marginalised young women, especially those in the rural areas.