Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Empower one woman, empower the whole nation
by Thando Gwinji (Solusi University)

Female Students Network can be seen from afar as just an organization doing a few programs to empower female students in tertiary institutions but from deep within they are doing more than that, they are actually reaching out to the whole world. This is a testimony from a female student by the name of Thando Gwinji from Solusi University in Bulawayo.

I first encountered FSN in 2011 when I was a 2nd year student doing Peace in Conflict Studies and at that time I was the president of the Peace Club and I attended FSN workshops so that I can further my leadership skills. Well I got more than that, through constantly attending these workshops I got exposure to a wider range of skills, I developed self-confidence, self-awareness and open-mindedness. Above all I got a platform to express myself and my passion in life through constantly interacting with the organization. Through the FSN blog I advanced my writing skills and created awareness on issues affecting me and other female students around Bulawayo. Opportunities then started to build up because my voice was being heard and because of the training that I had received I was bold enough to take them on. In a word or two I can say that I was empowered to be a bigger person than I was before.

The Pull Her Down (PHD) syndrome is a very common phenomenon amongst ladies who want to escalate to high positions, FSN however modelled the Push Her Up (PHU) very well. Being just a female student I got the chance to go and represent not just FSN but Zimbabwe and Africa at large at the Study of the United States Institute for Civic engagement (SUSI) through FSN. In this 2014 SUSI program, there were 20 participants representing the SADC region. Of the 5 weeks that I spent in America, 3 weeks were at the University of Nebraska where I was studying leadership, democracy, civic engagement, and human rights with top-notch professors and at the end of the training I was awarded with a certificate of recognition for outstanding academic achievement and leadership skills. Even before the completion of the course I was living the American dream, and so many doors seem to be opening up.
However, it is not what I achieved that is of essence, it is what I am going to do with what I achieved that matters. The least that I can do is give back to the society, though I don’t have much to give, I believe that the little the effort that I give goes a long way, I will begin by sharing the little knowledge that I have accumulated. I have grown to believe that information dissemination is the first step towards empowerment and anyone can do it. For every young lady out there know that you are also an agent of social change and powerful beyond measure. In my stay in America, I wasn’t only gaining knowledge but I was teaching Americans about Africa as well and I came to appreciate where I come from more. Looking at Africa from a different angle, I could see that we have a lot of potential but we also have a lack of will power and that will power begins with young people who strive to make a difference. Female Students Network is making a difference but it is up to us young ladies to embrace those efforts and be agents of social change.


It’s time to stand up for our rights

By  Yunah Bvumbe (Harare Polytechnic College)

Women have often been deluged with suggestions about ways to become more powerful in relation to men; however the differences in men’s and women’s access to use of power continually subvert the whole essence of gender equality.

Many of us seek friendship or colleagueship with members of the other sex often to find out that the equality supposed in these relationship is constantly challenged by learned sex role patterns of dominance and submission.
It is from this background that as a nation, we cannot continue to articulate about gender equality when men continue to dominate in society at our own peril.

Zimbabwe having been championed for being part of those nations that endorsed the SADC  Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008 which requires that ‘’states parties shall endeavour that by 2015, at least 50 percent of decision –making positions in the public and private sectors are held by women’’. The participation of women has not been very impressive and it raises alarm on whether Zimbabwe will be able to ensure 50-50 representation of men and women in politics.

In politics and economics when most people think  of a president ,prime minister ,chairman of the board ,they think of a man despite the fact that women can and do hold these positions.

And in the realm of expertise, female journalists, doctors lawyers are still trusted less than their male counterparts by many people and are not even acknowledged to exist by many others .

Perhaps only in the realm of power based on attractiveness, charisma and personal magnetism do women power images compete with male ones.

Besides the act that females are more intelligent than their male counterparts, their power is being misconstrued as men perceive women need affection and safety and nothing else.

Therefore the predicament of ambitious women is that they end up being lonely and bitter as the feeling of abandonment for their brave stance gains momentum.

In this male dominated society, women’s only effective source of influence is beauty and sex appeal as they are being used in advertising products naked to speed up sales.

But then one wonders, is this why women have been heralding for their emancipation only to be used as sexual objects?

This is the time to change our mindset and not betray those who have fought for us to be emancipated.