Rural Women: Brave Heroes of our time

As we commemorate International Women’s day today, Economic Justice for Women Project (EJWP) would like to celebrate and specifically honor the rural, Zimbabwean women, particularly the forgotten ethnic groups in the remote parts of the country to include the Venda, Varemba, VaDoma, the Ndau, the Shangani, Vachikunda only to mention a few, also including women with disabilities.

By Margaret Mutsamvi

We salute you! Your courage, innovation, determination and love for your families and communities. Thank you, women of true substance.

Amidst the exclusion from mainstream information, opportunities, skills, infrastructure, policy and legislation, you still stand out, in your innovation, to raise, educate, feed and nurture families. Hardly have you been consulted, in your spaces on financial and economic policy reforms or at least receive a copy of such in a language that you could relate with. Your story of determination and a true fighting spirit has not been adequately celebrated neither has it been met with corresponding support. Yet you live.
You have barely qualified to open a bank account, cannot fit the illegibility criteria to benefit from the lowest women empowerment loan facilities because you didn’t have a pay slip, proof of residence, proof of income. Your creativity could not be sorely recognized as a measure of what you are capable of doing, you do not have any entitlement to the numerous factors of production, nor certified skills in recognition of the work you do. But hey, you are amazing!!!
Though the lands are not in your possession, you till them and are productive contributing 60% of the nation’s agricultural produce. Outer beauty, softness of hands have never mattered to you, you thrive to feed the nation…at all costs. You strike me, you hard workers. Tinotenda!

You have come up with ideas to sell, at a small scale, whatever you could come across as a source of income and livelihoods for your families. You have been around different at times dangerous places looking for markets for your wares and you were chased away by different government arms, at times beaten and wares confiscated. Everyone would think you would loose hope and give up, but alas!, you could be injured, chased, raided, beaten and yet you still chose life. You chose life for your families and communities life. You scrounged for a few more dollars and started all over because nothing matters to you than life. We adore you!

You work extra hard, save from the little earnings. Monetary policies have continuously eroded such hard earned savings in the blink of an eye…from the Bearer’s cheques era to the bond note era. You suffer at the hands of policy makers who have turned a blind eye to your plight, your context, and your situation…and yet…you still live and hope and work some more. Congratulations Women!

You have lived with different forms of abuse, under structurally patriarchal hands. Your education and literacy were compromised to give way to the boy child, the culturally recognized heir. You were given in marriage while you were still very young when people made decisions concerning you on your behalf. Yet you still rise. You are bold! Thank you rural women. Thank you our heroes. You are a true source of inspiration and we will not rest until we can successfully remind our leaders on their obligation to engage with you, include you, to support and protect you as equal Zimbabwean citizens with greater untapped potential that can change the face of Zimbabwe, the region and the World.

You have experienced a lot, endured more, given more but always get less. Even I cannot exhaust it all. Tinotenda! Siyabonga!

You are worth celebrating and as we keep pressing for change, We will continue to engage with each other as families and communities, highlight our special plight and demand change from our local, national and regional leadership. One day, they will see that it was a change worth undertaking and way overdue.

Happy Women’s day game changers!

We salute you, our Heroes

Margaret Mutsamvi is a Director at the Economic justice for Women Project (EJWP)

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