When you grow up as a little girl, it's like there are faint chalk lines traced approximately three inches around your entire body at all times. These lines are drawn by society and often religion; family and particularly other women who somehow feel invested in the way you behave. When you are a little boy, they tell you men don't cry, tell you that being a man lies in an inflated ego and disregard for others. Everyone and everything tells you what you ought to do and when to do it because you belong to a certain gender.
The question of gender is quite misunderstood by the masses. Being a man or woman is not about biology; it is not about who is doing what and how, and most certainly it is not about how you look. When many hear the word "gender" they immediately think of women empowerment, whilst others think of gender identity. Gender is quite contrary to that, it is not about a wrestle for power or solely focused on issues of sexuality. Gender should rather be seen as a battleground for knocking down barriers and expanding boundaries.
In Cambodia, it is still common for girls not to be able to go to school, because their families think it is unnecessary. Men are solely in charge. Now this is not what our point is when we speak of gender. Gender is not about who is on the spotlight of responsibility. When one comes to comprehend the idea of gender, one can realize that if a woman or man heavily relies on their spouse, they cannot stand on their own in the event of the death or disappearance of the other. When we do understand gender, we will know that it is a state of balance, recognition of what the opposite sex is capable of.
Gloria Steinem articulates, "We have begun to raise our daughters more like sons , but few have the courage to raise their sons more like our daughters." How about we teach our boys how to be compassionate and that, being in touch with one's emotions is not a sign of weakness? Or we could teach our girls that they are more than the subservient beings that we have socialized them to be? In fact, why don't we teach and show each other that we can be anything we want to be and should not be afraid to try everything? What is seemingly a weakness can be an opportunity for upgrading each sex. If we can change the mind set that we have now, and embrace the fact that gender is more than defining each other by the difference of our genitalia, we would have knocked down that stone cold wall that has separated men and women for millennia.
The question of gender is not a question at all, never was and never will be . Women and men are not made to conform to boundaries of gender, we are made for so much more. Therefore, although we are made biologically different, we are but compliments of the opposite sex. Only when we begin to understand this, will we know that gender, is just a matter of balance.
By: Nyasha Chikosha
Women living in the rural areas usually experience health customs and have less access to health care than those living in urban areas. Many rural areas have limited numbers of health care providers especially women health providers.
The health outcomes of women living in the rural areas have yet continued to fall down mainly because of lack of trained medical staff. Most medical professionals have left country in search of greener pastures. This has resulted in women not getting the proper medical attention that they need leading to high mortality rate especially in maternal health care.
In as much as the majority of women have moved away from traditional practices especially in the urban areas, women in rural areas are still banking on traditional leaders for psychological and psychiatric problems. Most of the herbs that they are given to use are not tested anywhere some are fake and this has left these women in danger, some even suffer the rest of their lives from an ailment that can be easily dealt with by a professional physician.
Accessing health care centres is not an easy task for the most women living in the rural areas. There are still a very few health centres in rural areas of most parts of Zimbabwe. This has left most women with no option but to travel very long distance to get to these centres. This has proven to be very strenuous especially considering that ox-down carts are still the major means of transport to ferry patience to the clinics. Some of these women default their medication especially HIV/AIDS patience and TB as well. This also goes for women who are expected to be going for antennal visits monthly hence all putting this health at stack.
Malaria is also a huge threat to women living in low lying areas. Mosquito nets could be available in the health centres but the knowledge that they could be going for free is not available to all as well as vacation programs which being poorly communicated.
HIV/AIDS treatment programs have not been much of a success because treatment is supposed to compliment with nutrition. Nutrition to most women in the rural areas has been a major problem hence treatment programs have failed in many areas.
To sum up women living in the rural areas are facing challenges as far as health care is concerned lack of access to healthcare providers, lack trained health personal, nutrition issues, poor educational and communication of available health programs have been some of the challenges these women are facing daily which need much improved to in order to change the health of women especially in the rural areas.
Prince Ea once said, "We might fight racism, feminism, poverty, gay rights or any type of equality but this won’t matter in the list because if we don’t work together to save the environment we will be equally extinct.” The world today is fighting so many forms of equality from gender, race to gay rights. The list is endless as most groups of the society are trying to be empowered, liberated and recognised. This has taken the attention of the world. In as much as people are fighting for themselves trees cannot do the same, they are being exploited at a very alarming rate than before. This article will highlight one of the most environmental hazards which is deforestation and also call for everyone to join the movement in saving the trees of this planet earth.
Deforestation is the removal of forests and cutting down of trees to make the land available for other uses like farms, ranches, building homesteads, roads, expanding cities and mining purposes. The trees are used for timber, fuel, shelter and other uses. The United Nations Frame work Convention on Climate change noted subsistence farming as contributing to 48% of deforestation, commercial farming causing 32%, logging is responsible for 14% of deforestation and fuel make up 5%. Population growth and urbanisation have also been causing deforestation. Over the years between 2000 and 2012 2,3 million square kilo-meters of forests around the world were cut for several uses.
The world might understand better why everyone has to be involved in saving trees if this article points some effects of deforestation. Deforestation stands out as the major contributor to global warming and climate change by contributing more than 20% of greenhouse emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change deforestation account to a third of total Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Emissions. It also causes more proportions of Carbon Dioxide to linger in the atmosphere, which traps radiation from the sun. The radiation quickly converts to heat causing global warming also known as greenhouse effect. Deforestation affects the water cycle which poses effects on the rain pattern thus causing poor harvests and hunger. It also reduces soil cohesion causing soil erosion, flooding and landslides. Deforestation also causes the extinction of many species that use forests as food and habitats. Deforestation can also affect the gross domestic product of nations that depend on timber industry negatively. Deforestation has many negative effects on the people, the economy and weather patterns.
The many effects of deforestation calls for a rapid, universal and sustainable response to save trees around the world. This means that everyone should be involved in the movement to save trees and forests. There should be precautionary measures to save trees that are still there and also solutions to problems that have already been caused. Precautionary measures include putting polices and laws that help protect the forests. This can also be strengthened by protecting forests from veld fires. Governments and organisations should formulate laws and policies that protect the forests. Governments can also create conditions that stop people from cutting down trees like electrification of rural homes to avoid cutting down trees for fire wood. There should also be solutions to problems that have already been done like promoting tree planting for example in December on the Tree planting day. These could be enhanced by the government’s financial support on all programs that facilitate plant trees. Compensations incentives can also help motivate organisations that plant trees and protect forests. Mining companies should also join the movement by planting trees in the areas they have cut down trees for mining purposes. Individuals around the society can help save trees by planting trees, protecting trees and even sharing some message of saving trees around the world on social media and in their society.
The United Nations has set the goals as the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG12 calls for responsible consumption and production that include responsibility of trees. SDG13 calls for Climate action that encompasses planting of trees in reshaping the environment. The goals have been set and the work is now about bridging the gap between the goals of protecting trees and practicing the various ways of saving trees. Let’s join hands in planting trees that remove carbon in the form of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. The world only has one planet earth, one environment lets work together and help our environment from deforestation by protecting forests and planting trees. My dream is to see the world plant trees at a rate that is higher than that of deforestation in order to correct the harm on the environment for this generation and generations to come.
By: Lispoh Rugaro
Ubuntu means togetherness, family and creating a sense of oneness. The ability to empower someone is being able to carry individual success to other people. Empowerment is more than identification of the source of disempowerment and solving it, but it encompasses the giving of skills, educating the layman, training of women and young girls to be great entrepreneurs and taking up leadership roles. As Hilary Clinton says, it takes a nation to raise a child this basically means that empowering women is not a one man’s activity, but if many people put their heads together, recognising the potential in women and young girls will be achieved.
Setting free those strangled with the yoke of bondage, helping the defeated to stand on their own two feet, giving a voice to the hopeless and knowing that the oppressed can sing a song of freedom is what empowerment is all about. Helping women to release their inner potential is a step towards, grooming women to be influential in their communities. They are many women who have tapped into their inner potential and have helped others to realise their own. Proverbial women like Mother Theresa, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Florence Nightingale and Joyce Meyer just to mention a few. Many worldwide have become influential.
It would be an unjust act not to point out why young girl and women empowerment is important. It is crucial in building confidence to the future women that they can be game changers, who can make a difference. It is also important because one core of empowerment is adding value. With men and women working alongside empowerment is important because, females can equally run businesses, be providers and not be pushed around by male chauvinists who do not favour female development. Lastly Sara Longwe suggests that, they are levels of empowerment, welfare being the lowest stage talks about provision of the basic needs with no empowerment, followed by conscientisation which is making women aware of their disadvantages as well as mobilising and networking. The highest level sums up why young girls and women should be empowered this stage is having control and empowerment. This where women take action and are independent enough to make decisions, own and distribute resources.
In a nutshell, being empowered is like reaching the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which expresses self-fulfilment. It was once stated that our greatest fear is that we are not inadequate but we are powerful beyond measure, thus one of the vitals of empowerment is tapping into our inner selves to add value, seeing success as a collective victory and being the world changers as it is commonly said be the change you want to see.
By Ketty Chemambo
Women empowerment is 100% attainable and can be achieved in today’s society. A woman can be empowered educationally, physically, mentally but most importantly she must be empowered economically. Economic empowerment sustains a woman, economic empowerment is the muscle of her empowerment as a whole as well of the backbone of her social functioning.
Economic empowerment is the capacity of women and men to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in ways that recognise the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth. It is a weapon, a tool and an enemy against poverty as it not only economically benefit the woman but it enhances her thinking skills and stretches her to explore and discover her potential and natural capabilities. In Zimbabwe, economic empowerment for women is seen through income generating projects such as hairdressing, dressmaking, cooking and baking business. These have been mostly enables by nongovernmental organisations such as the Yama Foundation, Musasa Project, The Girl Child Network as well as by government efforts such as the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Economic Transformation (ZIM ASSET). ZIM ASSET has managed to promote women mainly because Zimbabwe Statistics (2015) note that over 65% of the people in small to medium enterprises are women. Women in Zimbabwe have managed to engage in buying and selling as and they have engaged in business ventures, that are vital to economic success on a personal level, nationally and even internationally.
However, women empowerment heavily relies on economic empowerment despite the changes done as women still contribute largely to the world’s poor. Women’s economic empowerment is a prerequisite for sustainable development and for achieving the Millennium Development goals. Is economic empowerment a right? Yes indeed as everyone has the right to food shelter and education and empowerment means access to economic resources and opportunities which include jobs, financial services, services, market information among many others.
Globally, women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risks and less political representation. The first thing a woman should be empowered in is in the economic aspect. Once a woman is economically empowered, she is empowered in every other aspect of life. She is healthy, for she can afford good maintenance and medication, she is safe because she can afford for a legal representative to stand up for her rights and she is educated because she can further her studies or even start studies if she was not educated.
Economic empowerment for the female specie is the most important step in her empowerment. In a nutshell, Steve Maraboli once said, “the empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description”.
By: Tinotenda Katsande
Humanity has unknowingly created a maximum prison. A dark and scary place guarded by fear, injustice and inequality. Recruiting or incarcerating young boys and girls into this prison has become a daily routine. What crime have they committed, one would wonder. The likely responses you may receive could include, “Being Born”, “Being Alive”, “Breathing” or simply, “Being African” and my personal favourite, “Why fix what’s not broken!”
Gender equality is the state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender. Despite the legal commitment to gender equality at the international, regional and national levels, women and girls in Africa continue to face a myriad of challenges in the political, social and economic spheres as a consequence of gender inequalities and imbalances. Gender equality is not only limited to the girl child but the boy child also faces similar challenges as well, as it is still seen as queer for a male to be in the fashion or beauty industries and if I’m to go to the extremes, even in the kitchen!
Rules, boundaries, constrictions, do’s and don’ts are meticulously set out well before a child is even conceived. Prejudiced views and opinions are engraved in innocent minds when they are still very young, that it is almost impossible to reverse them. Escaping from this type of mind-set is unheard of and breaking out of it is almost a taboo! Brick by brick we are all contributing in some way to building the maximum prison of gender inequality. Unless we take a stand. It. Is. Time!
The kitchen is your place she is told, growing up. Dishes, pots and pans are your friends, embrace them. Wake up early before sunrise, sweep the house spotless and cook for your family. Don’t ever forget it!
The garden is your place he is told, growing up. Shovels, screw drivers and spades are your friends, embrace them. Go to work, provide for your family and protect them from danger at all costs. Don’t ever forget it!
The above scenario worked well in the past but things have since changed. We need to move with the times and adjust our mind-sets to adapt to this fast and changing world.
We can have female pilots, male midwives, female electricians, male nurses, and female mechanics the list is endless. Let’s remove all the barriers and restrictions and stereotyping. We are all equal and as such we should all have the same opportunities in the political, social and economic spheres.
No double standards. No unnecessary and unfair special treatments should be given to anyone. We all breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Let’s learn to live together, accommodate one another, tolerate one another and above all love one another. Let’s destroy these maximum prisons and in the words of Bob Marley “Let’s get together and feel alright!”
By : Hannah Chaza
The human race has managed to remain at the command center of the food chain, not by giving in to fear or doubt, but by showing bravery and exhibiting a knack for survival. People have displayed great feats of strength and intelligence and this has helped perpetuate the species as a whole. Unfortunately this trait has also made it such that humanity tends to only address situations that threaten survival and give the greatest discomfort, pain being one of those things. Health wise this is a precarious position humanity holds as it has led to many a life lost to illnesses that are quiescent but fatal.
Illnesses like hypertension (elevated blood pressure) are what are known as the silent killers, diseases that only begin to manifest when it is too late. These diseases have been on the rise since the advent of fast foods and a sedentary lifestyle. They claim more lives each year than AIDS, yet people are more concerned with the latter, and give slightly more attention to the former as they do the common cold. The fact that symptoms begin to manifest only when one is about to die means that people are unaware they have this disease until they are halfway dead. These diseases do not elicit pain and therefore they are not registered and dealt with early enough. As Walter Ganong wrote, pain is the main reason people seek medical advice. Pain is the one thing that will drive almost anyone to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, pain usually means that the problem has advanced to a stage that is difficult, if not impossible, to fix. An example can be given of cancer which only starts to be painful when it has spread excessively.
Society has had a role in the mindsets harbored by many. It is socially known that men are supposed to be the stronger of our species and as such they are not meant to show emotion or reveal if they have discomfort. They are meant to “bear it like a man”. Grownups as well should not whine about a little pain or an inconspicuous lump. That is the behavior children exhibit. As long as one can walk then one is okay. This has led to some detrimental consequences. It has been proven that the most prevalent reason a man visits a physician is because they are experiencing extreme pain or they are having sexual difficulties. With these being the only red flags that will be noticed, it is clear that many lives can easily be lost to covert ailments.
This mindset has spread so far that it has become almost impossible to rectify, especially in the Zimbabwean culture. It is being exacerbated by the lack of finances and a poor economic situation. When asked why they took so long to go to a hospital, many patients say they did not have the money for transport or the steep consultation fees. The lack of medication in all but the most expensive pharmacies also worsens the situation. People would rather resort to staying at home than seeking out medical help.
The entirety of this article is to highlight the fact that pain should not be the only indicator of illness that people should heed. There is so much that can be done to ensure that one’s health is kept at its pink. It should become a habit in our culture to seek medical help not just to get treated, but also just to get regular checkups and screenings. Women should engage in cancer screenings at least once a year. At the first sign of an irregularity, people should take the necessary steps to ensure they are still well of body and mind. When pregnant, let every woman sign up for antenatal care. Visit the dentist at least twice a year. The entire family should be signed up for medical aid. Finally, let all be tested for HIV/AIDS.
In conclusion, though culture and society have dictated that being tough ensures survival, let humanity also pick up on being cautious and ready for any eventuality. Let there be preservation of life. Let us not lose our lives to things that could easily be rectified.
By: Kudzai Chinyanganya
The buzz all over social media and gatherings in this era is the endeavour to achieve equality of opportunities and social acceptance. Unfortunately not enough attention has been offered to people living with disabilities. Disability is an umbrella term covering impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. At face value, an individual may face a problem in body function or structure and may encounter difficulties in executing a task or action but to many disability has been perceived as inability. There is a great need for people to consider that most people did wonderful things while they had disabilities examples including Louis Braille, Franklin Roosevelt, Jairos Jiri, Elliot Mujaji etc.
Upon carrying out the first ever National survey, on disability and health in 2013, It was discovered that one out of every thirteen Zimbabweans is living with a certain type of disability which means roughly 7% of the population are people living with disabilities. According to the Chronicles report 10 January 2017 only 18% of the people living with disabilities reach form 4, the main hinderances being financial constraints and discrimination.
On a positive note Zimbabwe can be applauded for being one of the first countries to come up with a disability specific legislation through the Disabled persons Act chapter 17.01 of 1992. However, the legislation needs support from the general public. There is also need to remove environmental and social barriers in order to overcome the problems faced by the disabled.
To achieve greatness, what people living with disabilities require from the government and the general public is not pity but understanding, neither is it custody but opportunity and instead of care what they need is acceptance. Thus, the government and the public should struggle not to reinforce self pity to people living with disabilities but should encourage them reset their vision and direction for life. Plenty of opportunities should be opened including empowerment programs, schools and scholarship programs adding to the already existing so as to uplift people living with disabilities and eliminate discrimination.
With open hearts, changed mindsets towards people living with disabilities, the government and the masses will surely attain extraordinary achievements.
By: Mercy Makono
A beautiful Range Rover sport has the ability to drive at up to 250 km per hour and beyond, but without the fuel, it is nothing but a beautiful object to look at, without the fuel we can never know its potential and ability to function. Empowerment means emancipation of women from the grips of social, economic, political caste and gender discrimination. Women empowerment metaphorically is the fuel of every beautiful woman of the world, the strengthening of the female specie to be able to stand alone, decide alone without any hindrances, stigma and limitations because of their gender.” Feminization of poverty” is a term that has been used over the past years to describe how poverty is most rampant among the female population .According to the United Nations Annual report 2014, over 65% of the world’s poor are women hence the desperate need for empowerment.
Do we need to enforce and intensify women’s rights? No. Do we need to protect women? No. Do we need to empower women? Certainly yes. Uplift her confidence, stimulate her ideas, and allow her to make her own choices that she will be accountable for. Never tell a woman that nobody will hurt her because you are there, but because she has the strength to protect herself, because she knows who she is, she knows her rights and has the financial ability and the mental capacity to enable justice to prevail.
Empowerment is the enemy of male chauvinism and patriarchy. Women Empowerment is the voice nobody wants to hear, yet it cries out infringed and outspoken by poverty, negative and sensational coverage of media, isolation of women from each other, illiteracy, conflicts among women and structural adjustment policies. Women empowerment needs to be understood as a success ladder for many suffering economies in the third world .Zimstats 2013 note that 52% of the Zimbabwean population comprises of women hence if more women are educated and self sustainable, the country will have a massive economic uplift. Kofi Anan noted that, “there is no tool for development than women empowerment” hence the women empowerment and positive change concerning development are inseparable. Hence, this elucidates the importance of empowering women as it has short term as well as long term benefits not only to women but society at large.
By: Tinotenda Katsande
In an ever changing world, women empowerment has continued to be the talk of the town. They are many questions as to why a glut number of women continue to be suppressed and under developed. Despite those odds, they have been ways brought forward on empowering women and young girls. Kofi Annan states that there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.
Many times, it is quite hard to believe that one of the reasons for not being empowered is patriarchy. Patriarchy has had a great impact on the downfall to empowering women. The term patriarchy is generally centred on the fact that since men, are seen and said to be the head of families, the providers, whilst women are exposed to just the caregiving and child bearing role. This has made women become very passive and docile as they are not motivated or encouraged to seek personal growth, thus it hinders empowerment.
It is quite evident, that with the changing times, numerous family structures have been flipped upside down to having, women headed families, and as a result whether this happens by default or it is intentional this certainly calls for a need to be empowered, so that they can be able to take care of themselves, their children and not to be dependent as this gives birth to abuse. It has become essential for women to be empowered because it is the first step to recognition and it also increases the nation’s Gross domestic profit.
They are many other reasons which have not been discussed in detail, which disable women from being empowered, for example cultural practices that require a girl child to be married early, poverty as well as socialisation that says women are caregivers and are born for household purposes.
Empowerment will only start when the source of oppression has been identified. It has to begin with a shift from providing material needs to providing strategic needs. We need to move away from giving the disadvantaged temporary needs but give them the skills which will helps them to acquire the material needs. This can be done by helping women to start projects in groups to generate revenue. Women have to be offered the opportunity to go for training courses because multiples are running businesses and working alongside men. Extra quotas can be raised to take the underprivileged girls to school. With the high rates of childbearing in the rural areas, women can start pre-schools. They can also receive knowledge on family planning and how to prevent water borne diseases and many others.
Conclusively empowerment holds onto the fact that it’s the ahbility to recognise rights, being the voice of the voiceless. It also encompasses carrying one’s success to help others to stand on their own. This is done by providing education, funds to start projects and giving skills to help provide for themselves and having access and control over resources.
By: Ketty Chemambo