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Joining Hands In Reducing And Responding To GBV 

A community initiative in Chiredzi seeks to reduce and respond to Gender Based Violence by engaging individuals, families and communities through a programme known as Stopping Abuse and Female Exploitation (SAFE) Programme.

In October 2021, World Food Programme’s (WFP) Urban Social Assistance and Resilience Building Programme (USARBP) which is meant to meet the urgent food needs of urban dwellers partnered with The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) ECORYS (SAFE Communities), Plan International and Musasa to implement SAFE  pilot programme in Chiredzi urban, as an added layer to the existing USARBP.

The SAFE programme delivers community-level projects to prevent violence by changing harmful attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls and respond to violence by increasing access to services for survivors.

A group of women has organised themselves to come up with an Internal Savings and Lending Scheme (ISALS). This is one of the resilience building initiatives which aims to cushion women and their families from poverty and hunger through access to credit loans and savings. Through ISALs, an increase in income generating projects which include,  poultry management, entrepreneurial initiatives such as buying and selling and income security at household level has been noted. Women are now better prepared to face harsh conditions and can afford most importantly food, medicine, children’s uniforms and school fees from these various income streams.

These are their inspiring stories.

Covid 19 opportunities

Shingirai Usiku is a 36-year-old woman who was trained to make detergent  products. She produces detergents to supply her community . She got the start up capital from ISALs.

“There was high demand for soap and sanitizers because of Covid 19, the traditional suppliers didn’t meet the demand, so I noticed a gap in the market and I got trained by Plan International Zimbabwe (PIZ) through WFP. Now I am supplying the whole community and a local preschool. Business is booming and we will be expanding,” she said.

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Shingirai used the proceeds from the money she got to buy food, pay rentals and bills and is looking to brand her products.

With age comes responsibility

Emmelda Chingweruwe is 57-year-old and is a grandmother who was trained through Musasa. She is the eldest in this group, but she is the go-to person when it comes to issues to do with life, and problems in their marriages and she is always there to give them advice. She is one of the gender community leaders.

“I have seen it all, the young ladies always come to ask me for advice, and I am always there to assist. I am also doing some urban farming growing mushrooms and rabbitry you don’t need a lot of space to do this,” she added.

Time is money in business.

Charity Madziwa the lady who sells time.

The most important thing in business is to know what your customers want. Tailor making the product to the customer’s needs is key. This is what exactly Charity Madziwa a 47-year-old woman is doing. She sells red floor polish, and she delivers the floor polish right to your doorstep.

“I sell floor polish but, in a way, I sell time because once you make an order via WhatsApp or a call, I rush to your doorstep to deliver, cutting down the amount of time you were going to get it at the shelves of the shop and coming back home. I deliver it to cut that hustle for the customer.  I know my consumers don’t have time, so I provide the product in a click of a button. We are so fast, and I will be investing in some bicycles for swift deliveries,” she added.

Men are part of the solution

One of the male members of the group

In as much as this group of women is doing well there also have some male members who are always there to give their ideas. The women engage some of the men in their society and discuss how men and boys can be part of the solution. “To end GBV we have to be part of the conversation as men,” added one of the male members in the group.

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Part of the money from the ISALs

Evidence from conducted research highlight that in Zimbabwe intimate partner violence (IPV) and other forms of violence against women and girls are driven by two main factors these are economic insecurity and gender norms; there is generally a high prevalence of violence against women and girls at household level and the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic increased the prevalence of GBV in communities.

Household economic strengthening activities such as (ISALs) provides a platform for engaging families and communities around critical reflection on gender. A secondary objective of the programme is to address the drivers of child marriage and other forms of violence happening in the household. The programme has also Increased access to essential services for survivors. This is the response component implemented by Musasa.

While this approach is a first of its kind it is being carried out as a pilot in Zimbabwe where WFP provide food transfers so that the economic strain on the family is reduced and they can meaningfully participate in the ISALS and SAFE sessions. This has empowered communities to protect women and girls’ safety, rights and choices, leading to improved development outcomes and reduction of child marriage and modern slavery. The programme also improved the availability of and implementers’ capacity to use evaluation evidence, research and data to optimise impact, value for money, and targeting in programming About 315 households participate in this initiative, 30 of them have a member with a disability.

Shingirai addressing group members of the Komanani  which means united as one

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