Statement for International Women’s Day


 

This year’s UN theme is Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!” and it is a call for people to visualise a present and a future in which all of humanity is empowered because women and girls have been empowered. It is recognition that the energy, talent and strength of women and girls represent humankind’s most invaluable untapped natural resource. It is a call to the individual responsibility to imagine the world as it could be, and to do what one can to achieve that vision. It is also, more pertinently, a nudge and reminder to governments, civil society and public and private sectors to commit to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls – as a fundamental human right and a force for the benefit of all.

Working for equality for women and girls around the globe is the key to fighting poverty, political instability and social injustice and all the evils that beleague society in its broadest sense. Over the years, the struggle to get women’s rights integrated into the general human rights framework and to have key decision making institutions recognise the importance of issues related to women and girls have been fruitful. Every major institution and government has at the very least acknowledged that ending discrimination and violence against women are fundamental to achieving gender equality. Many have committed to working on these issues.

This year as the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), we commemorate International Women’s Day in Zimbabwe, by reawakening a call to all actors to remind us of where we ought to be. For when we empower a woman we empower a nation. Empowering the women of Zimbabwe means we must strive to provide educational opportunities for all girls and women of all ages, for them to be able to realise their full potential. No girl child should be deprived of this opportunity for any reason.

It means ending gender based violence in the private and public sphere. .We must strive with every breath to eradicate all traditional, cultural and social practices that continue to discriminate and dehumanise the women of Zimbabwe.

All laws must be aligned to International human rights standards and the Constitution to ensure that every woman has full and equal dignity as well as have equal opportunities with men.. Until we all make this commitment, we cannot move forward as a nation.

For until we all acknowledge in word and in practice that women are the core of our humanity we will never change our reality. Let us continue to work together to make this world a better place for all women. Together we can make it happen!

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Security means uncurling my toes….


By EverJoice Win

What does security mean to you? That was the question surrounding this year’s 16 days of activism theme. Militarism, conflict, state sponsored violence, political violence, were some of the sub-themes we campaigned on. We talked about the big stuff, the big news tickets of the moment. The news coming out of Syria continues to be unbearable. Libya is still on the boil. In the DR Congo, thousands are fleeing across the borders, fearing for their lives as the election results are about to be announced. In Burma, Hillary Clinton smiled for the cameras and got paly-paly with the generals, temporarily shorn of their uniforms for better picture quality. In various Northern capitals anti capitalist protestors were carted off the streets, sometimes violently. At COP17, things got ugly and civil society had to be shoved back into their small allotted space. The wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan rage on. None of these places is too far away or too foreign. I know women there. I have met them. I know their names. They are my friends. I worry about them. I text. I email. I Skype them. Just to make sure they are ok. Being a global citizen means you curl your toes each time you watch the news.

The so called ‘security forces’ and law enforcement agencies continue to frighten me and other women out of our wits. In my home number two, the South African Police service decided that adopting militarised titles and ranks was the way to…..what? Instill discipline? Show seriousness? Give the service more gravitas? Induce fear? Each time I enter Rosebank police station to get my documents certified, I am greeted by a “colonel”, and sometimes a “lieutenant” looks over his shoulder. I clutch my bags in fear. I smile feebly and answer their questions with too many words, and run out as soon as I can. Thankfully I have never had to report a crime, or ask to be taken to a place of safety by these “soldiers”, because I just don’t know where they would take me! I don’t feel secure with a police man called “general”, no matter how much he smiles, or tries to convince me he is here for my protection.

In home number one, my state President goes by the grand title of, “Comrade Robert Mugabe, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the First Secretary of ZANU PF and commander in chief of the armed forces”. This for a man with seven (well earned), University degrees! If he needed any accolades he has the BA, BA Hons, etc to pick from. Being told that the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces is not meant to make me respect the man. It says, ‘Be very afraid. He has guns. Pointed at your head. One move we don’t like and we pull the triggerS”. I know who is in control. And if I forget I am reminded on the hour every hour by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.

I curl my toes. I draw my knees together. That is the effect men in uniform have on me. The military industrial complex announces itself, advertises itself and reminds us ‘they’ are in control of our countries, our lives, our bodies.

But it is not only these visible manifestations of our militarised world that make me insecure. Going to the supermarket makes me frightened. I am scared to see the price of food. I worry about whether there will be enough month left at the end of the money. I am too scared to ask a woman with three children how she lives on a twenty dollars per month wage. Yesterday I took my son to a doctor and she asked for 50 dollars just to write a referral note to the radiographer. In the space of two weeks I have buried two women, both aged 44, both died from diseases that could have been easily managed. I don’t fear death. I fear an undignified and painfully unnecessary death, such as I have seen countless times around me.

Two days ago I met a beautiful young person who identifies themselves as trans-gender. I immediately started worrying about how she was going to get out of that hotel back to her home in the township. What hoops she would have to navigate to ensure her own safety. I keep hearing the hateful sermons preached at one of those funerals I went to, “these ngochani are an abomination! We must cast the devils out of them! If you are a ngochani come forward so we pray for you!” I keep curling my toes and drawing my knees up.

A lot can happen in 16 days. And it did! So we come to the end of this year’s 16 days of activism against gender based violence. It has been an amazing two decades of organising by women, and a few good men, all over the world. To hear some talk today you would think they invented the campaign and made us women too while they were at it. Well let us not go there. I suppose we should just be happy that what started off as an idea, almost a pipe dream, with only 24 women, has grown to be one of the most well known global campaigns. Who says the feminist movement is small, insignificant and the changes it has brought can’t be “measured. If anybody had asked us on that bright summer day at Rutgers, what will success look like? How will you measure it? I don’t think we would have been able to provide an answer, let alone imagine that this is what the 16 days campaign would achieve. Hear yea, monitoring and evaluation zealots. This is what success looks like!

So what does security mean to me? It means uncurling my toes, unclenching my knuckles, free of fear – real or imagined, and living a life of dignity, experiencing sexual and other kinds of pleasure, and having the right to make choices.

Women’s economic development and upliftment is key to reducing abuse


By Fortune Madhuku

Looking back in history, parents never prioritised educating the girl child. Society believed educating a girl child was a waste of resources. The assumption was that the girl would as soon get married and the husband would take over as the provider of everything the wife needed. But the times have changed now. Girls and women have proved to be as hard-working as boys and men. They have proved how independent they can be without relying on their partners for support. But this is only possible if they are given the opportunity to get an education.

It is wrong to teach girls that they do not need to work hard in school to guarantee themselves a better life. It is destructive to socialise them into thinking that their future is guaranteed by getting a husband who takes over the responsibility of their upkeep.  It is evil to make young girls believe that their gateway to success is finding a rich husband who can provide anything they desire. It is also dangerous to create this impression as it puts women at the mercy of their husbands, with no education or jobs. Yet, some amongst us have no qualms about telling this to young girls, poisoning their minds.

Many women consider being in a relationship to be the best thing to ever to happen to them. However, the imagined bliss deriving from relationships is not always pleasant. Millions of women endure never ending abuse perpetrated by their intimate partners.

In Zimbabwe, while measures have been put in place to assist victims of abuse, the major highlight being the enactment of the Domestic Violence Act in 2007, very few women come forward to seek justice. They consider it better to remain in abusive relationships than to opt out and face economic hardships and possibly extreme poverty and homelessness.

This is because many women in our society remain economically disadvantaged. They have not been developed and uplifted to be in a position where they can fend for themselves and earn income to sustain themselves and live decent lives.  To them, husbands are like demi-gods on whom their lives depend. Some women are comfortable with being house-keepers and child bearers while men are the breadwinners. However, these situations are only good when the relationship is pleasant, but when things turn sour most of these women face terrible abuse. They also find it hard to leave the abusive husbands as this would mean wallowing in abject poverty.

Most women do know that they can always report abusive husbands to the police and get them arrested. With heightened education on domestic violence and remedies available, women have most of the information they need but many cases of violence go unreported or get withdrawn. This is because women fear what will happen to them and the children if the bread winner is put behind bars. In some cases, women fear that if they report the husband the next thing is that he  will file for divorce. Without a husband and bread winner, life becomes unbearable to the women who cannot provide for themselves.

It’s surprising to find some women who know very well that their husbands are promiscuous and sleep around with any women they lay their hands on but the women still stay in those relationships. Although they appreciate the risk of contracting HIV and other STIs from their husbands, they still hang in there because they fear a bleak future if they leave their husbands. You hear some women saying ‘’kusiri kufa ndekupi’’ meaning either way it’s hard for them.

Women and girls should be encouraged to work hard in life. Parents should ensure that they educate both the boy and girl child. Girls particularly need much more attention as they grow up so that they are not swayed out of the way. If more and more women are educated so that they can stand on their own this can reduce abuse. It has been proven that women can succeed and reach great heights in life. In Zimbabwe we have a great number of women who have made it in life and occupy influential positions. Names that quickly come to mind are Grace Muradzikwa, the Chief Executive Officer of Nicoz Diamond Insurance, Dr Hope Sadza, the Vice Chancellor of the Women’s University and Dr Charity Dhliwayo, the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, among thousands others. These women have shown that the fairer sex can be much more that house keepers and child bearers, but important players both in the home and the outside world.

Husbands in relationships should develop and uplift their wives if they have not achieved anything before marriage. One way to show love is to educate the wife and develop her so that she can have a life and not depend on the husband for everything. In times of economic challenges like this in Zimbabwe where many companies are retrenching, one never knows the day that the woman will come to the rescue and provide for the family. At least when both the husband and wife are working there is a fallback position should the unfortunate happen.

It is unfortunate that many men are not comfortable being in a relationship with successful women who can stand on their own. They think it may be difficult to override such independent women in family decision making. But just imagine what will happen to the family if the husband, being the bread winner dies or is incapacitated. The whole family left behind suffers and with the woman only able to do menial jobs, more abuse awaits as we have seen vendors and other women who survive on menial jobs facing harassment of different kinds from the authorities. And the cycle of abuse continues as girl children end up marrying just to have someone provide for them. So, a family is in a better position with uplifted women who can provide for the family and stand on their own.

Society should really develop and uplift women so that they can stand on their own and not endure abusive relationship just because extreme poverty awaits should they opt out.

Monitoring everything but ourselves


by Daniel Mususa

We have been fighting to end Gender Based Violence for some considerable time now. From the early “we don’t need men anyway” radical feminist approaches in the 1970s, to the contemporary “together as men and women” approaches, we have seen a plethora of programs, projects and schemes aimed at fighting Gender Based Violence. Each one has had its rationale, merits and demerits. And I believe, we have learnt a lot from these phases and have sharpened our arsenal to more effectively understand and address GBV. Gender and Development (GAD), Gender in Development (GID), Women in Development (WID), Women and Development (WAD) etc. the list is endless, as we have incorporated into new designs the strengths of the previous versions and dropped the weaknesses.

In Zimbabwe, in some regards we have moved quite quickly in our acceptance of plans to improve the situation of women, than many countries. The majority of women are allowed to drive, to go to work, get paid maternity leave, can wear what they want and can be  whoever they want to be and do what they want with their lives, with a good education. Zimbabwe is a signatory tothe Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)-a canon international instrument in the fight against GBV, Domestic Violence and other discriminatory ills that pull women back. Zimbabwe has adopted and quickly operationalised CEDAW and other international conventions and guiding frameworks. In fact, Zimbabwe seems to be ager to become aa signatory to most of these international instruments and codes. Resultantly, the civil movement in its pursuit of women empowerment has been buoyed by the relatively pacy adoption of these codes into actual legislation. From self-help schemes, village level and nationwide micro finance lending schemes, cooperatives and psycho-social support groups, Zimbabwe has benefitted from an array of programs tackling gender issues and addressing the marginalisation of women.

There is every reason to applaud the adoption of international instruments such as CEDAW, the Beijing Conference, efforts to punish perpetrators of GBV, efforts to facilitate dialogue and improve communication between intimate partners. All approaches toward women empowerment have some weaknesses for example, Linda Mayoux discussing microfinance schemes, argues that increasing the money available to women does not necessarily equate to their empowerment. There still remains the question of who, within the household, controls that money? That is the man, the husband from whose clutches and power we are trying to help wrestle the woman. Each approach has its given problems.

We have successfully identified most of the factors and processes responsible for GBV and have evolved strategies to deal with them, to change the wider societal structures that house these processes and to monitor that change. However, we have not dentified and utilised strategies for monitoring our own role as activists/human rights defenders in defining the problem, developing the project design and our Monitoring and Evaluation plans. We can astutely monitor all other variables except this one: Us. We have not developed plans to monitor our personal biases, baggage, our values, beliefs, incompetencies, misconceptions and most importantly, our willingness or lack of it in seeing actual change in our own behaviour, attitudes etc. towards Gender Based Violence.

I have heard civil society actors whisper a “but izvi zve gender nemadzimai hazvinatsoshanda”[…but this gender and women empowerment thing does not really work]. Women’s rights organisations struggle to get their issues prioritized in fora that have so-called human rights minds gathered. In other words, gender concerns are marginalised by those in development work, making the work an industry in which the actors are not sincere, as Hancock puts it.

With this current campaign to end gender based violence coming to an end, we need to address how we are glossing over our deficiencies in ending all forms of GBV by:

  1. Project mentality

We have had an abundance of projects/programs aimed at empowering women to stand up against GBV. Each project has been implemented by one or two organisations on limited funds. Durable solutions can only come out of a process of sustained community engagement to establish contextually, the causes and manifestations of GBV and the best implementation and M& E strategy. Lone projects are just that; lone projects. They end at the end of the money

  1. Lack of co-ordination

There is just an appalling clustering of work on the same thing. In the same communities you find two or three initiatives addressing GBV. The only difference is that one takes a microfinance angle, another on participation, another on constitutional/rights awareness and another on cross border trading. Why not combine forces and come up with a comprehensive thing whose impact and change can be noted over time. After all, GBV is supported by forces such as culture which cannot be moved easily? I remember a Shona adage “Rume rimwe harikombi churu.” Cooperation is key!

  1. Taking one case study as signifying larger societal change

Perhaps because everyone has to show that they are doing “something,” we are guilty of over-glorifying one case/project in we which we think we are doing well. That one “successful” initiative is glorified, put in annual records, pasted on social media, quoted in conferences as if that one case proves everything and shows that we are succeeding in ending GBV. Individual contributions matter, but our combined efforts are what will change the status quo.

  1. We lack studies giving evidence of how social relations that put different people at risk of GBV have changed because of the work we do. There is no literature with substantive numbers and qualitative explanations on how the relations have changed and where. Gender Based Violence has deeper structural foundations than we have been willing and able to monitor. A project cannot change people (both men and women who are benefitting from the current status quo) to suddenly let go of their privileges. GBV is based in culturally ascribed privileges and benefits that present GBV (and Domestic Violence) as ok when perpetrated under certain circumstances e.g. a woman’s refusal to have sexual intercourse with a cheating husband. We need research; a simple feedback report to say one had a meeting with a chief is not proof that the chief’s perceptions and attitudes have changed.
  2. We still have not yet come up with effective measurement mechanisms that tell us how much of our own baggage/beliefs and stereotypes have been reduced in designing, planning, implementing and evaluating our efforts to reduce/eliminate GBV. What we have become so successfully skilled at is measuring how our preconceived variables or “Objectively Verifiable Indicators” as we call them, are changing in the target populations/ among project participants or beneficiaries. We need to evaluate how our own biases taint our approaches to the work we do.

Going forward, we now need to target GBV where it is in the communities, not just where just it is easiest to reach. This includes developing tailored strategies to reach marginalised populations more effectively to gather their views on what we do including those who drop out of our projects. We need to hear why they think what we do is not worth their time, because it really may not be worth anything to them. Are we willing to hear these stories? To make durable change we need to stop monitoring everything else but ourselves. Our eyes should be on ourselves just as they are on our project beneficiaries. We cannot end Gender Based Violence if we are unwilling to look at our own shortcomings as men, women, communities and women’s rights defenders.

Silenced voices at home; orators abroad-the universality of justice


By Kuda Chitsike

One of the major reasons, leading to the negotiation of the Global Political Agreement was that violence during the run off period had reached unprecedented levels. Approximately 200 people were killed, thousands displaced and assaulted, but there was no mention of the rape that women suffered. It is well known that there was widespread violence, but what is less known is that sexual violence was perpetrated against women as a political strategy.  Previously, there was a lot of anecdotal evidence but no proper documentation was available in the aftermath of the election. Civil society organisations, including women’s groups were hesitant to talk publicly about politically motivated rape, even though survivors were seeking refuge in their organisations and their horror stories were known. The silence of the women’s groups muted the voices of the survivors; if well-established organisations were unwilling to speak on their behalf, who would listen to their individual voices? But as time went on the survivors of rape became bold, began speaking out about their experiences during the election period, and demanded to be heard and taken seriously.

The first public report on sexual violence in Zimbabwe during the election period was written by an American-based organisation, AidsFreeWorld, ‘Electing to Rape: Sexual Terror in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.’ This report was released in December 2009 and it was based on 70 affidavits collected from women who were survivors of rape and were living in South Africa and Botswana where they felt free to speak.  A second report was produced by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) in 2010, entitled, ‘No Hiding Place: Politically Motivated Rape of Women in Zimbabwe.’  In these two reports, women reported that they were repeatedly raped and beaten for their support of the MDC, whether perceived or real, as the perpetrators told them so during the ordeal. Some stated that this happened in front of their children and family members, and, as a result of the rape, their marriages broke down. Most of the women did not receive appropriate care for the trauma that they had experienced. The women exhibited high levels of sleeplessness, nightmares, flashbacks, and hopelessness: symptoms, which are commonly associated with experiences of trauma.

These two reports gave credence to the claims that the women were making about politically-motivated sexual violence, and the issue could no longer be ignored.

The recently released findings of the Khampepe report supported what Zimbabwean organisations have been saying for the last 14 years, violence and intimidation are part and parcel of elections.  This report has implications for Zimbabwean women who lodged a case in 2012 in the South African courts with the support of AidsFreeWorld. The women brought their case to a South African court because they had failed to get any recourse in Zimbabwe. When they tried to report their cases to the police they were either turned away, told that the police were not dealing with political violence cases, or told by the police that they gor what they deserved. Sometimes the police outrightly  refused to open dockets, which effectively meant the women were unable to go for medical examinations.

AidsFreeWorld submitted an amicus brief to the South African courts after a case was brought by the Zimbabwean Exiles’ Forum and the Southern African Litigation Centre in 2008 on behalf of MDC supporters who alleged that they were tortured by ZANU PF supporters and state agents. On 30th October 2014, the Constitutional Court in South Africa ruled that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is obliged to investigate crimes against humanity “where the country in which the crimes occurred is unwilling or unable to investigate.” The ruling is based on the fact that South Africa is obliged to investigate because it signed and domesticated the Rome Statute on the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

This ruling has given hope to the Zimbabwean women who were brave enough to tell their stories. Unfortunately not all perpetrators will be brought to justice, but it sends the right message; that sexual violence will not be tolerated in any society for any reason.

Had the election report, which was compiled by the high court judges Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke, been released when it was compiled it is highly probable that 2008 might never have happened as a government of national unity could have been negotiated in 2002. The Kamphepe report supported other observers’ groups that stated that there was serious election violence and it would have added to international pressure to end the Zimbabwean crisis.

As we commemorate the 16 days of gender activism, there is hope that justice will be delivered and that the victims of election violence, particularly the victims of rape that have not been acknowledged will get the redress they deserve. Although their voices may have been largely silenced at home, they can get justice abroad-proving that justice is a universal principle and that no atrocity committed against another human being can be hidden forever.

You can’t defeat gender violence without solidarity amongst women.


By Tony Reeler 

Women discriminate and degrade one another, they are overcome by jealousy and dont like other women to be promoted.” (Woman from Chivhu)

One of the major problems that blocks effective action in stopping gender violence is the lack of solidarity among women, what some have called the PhD syndrome – “pull her down”. It is not a trivial problem, and, over the years, Zimbabwean women have raised this as a problem. Some of this lack of solidarity seems to be derived from women’s lack of confidence in themselves. In the Mass Public Opinion Institute gender survey in 2002, only 29% of women stated that “women are more receptive to women leaders.”And in answer to the question, “in your opinion, do women pull each other down?”, 75% of women answered in the affirmative.

So, women are not in favour of women leaders, and, those that are, probably cannot count on the support of their fellow women. But maybe things have changed since 2002?

Actually, no!

In 2013, a majority (94%) of the sample of women stated in research done by RAU and The Women’s Trust (TWT) that they would vote for a woman candidate, which is encouraging, but this was minimised by their responses to two other questions. There were differences between rural and urban women, but the trend was apparent. Nearly half (49%) of rural women, and more than half (58%) of urban women, felt that there were so few women parliamentary candidates because of the PhD syndrome. As for support, only 38% of rural women and 21% of urban women felt that older women had done a great job in supporting younger women.

Added to this picture, the Afrobarometer survey in 2012 demonstrated quite dramatically that nothing had changed since the MPOI survey in 2002. 89% of rural women and 91% of urban women stated in the affirmative to the question, do men make better leaders than women?

So, how can solidarity work when women hold such contradictory views? They want more representation, but do not believe that those women that they might elect will be as good as the men. They want to elect women, but believe that women won’t get elected because women themselves will not only support other women, but will actively undermine them. And they don’t believe that older women do much in encouraging younger women.

Why should this be the case? Well, we see the symptoms. The disease is diagnosed quite simply by some women from a focus discussion group in 2010:

Usually in our culture women dont decide for themselves, youre supposed to seek permission first from your husband so that you can do something. Secondly those women who participate in politics mostly are labelled prostitutes. So you wont feel comfortable if youre a woman and say you want to become an MP or something, they will say, “look at that prostitute so it discourages women from participating. And in our culture we always know that men are leaders so its another factor which discourages us. The other problem is our patriarchal societies, the cultural beliefs in our society, women think that they are inferior and cannot stand on their own. Sometimes its fear of the unknown and sometimes it is ignorance.” (Women from civic group)

Excerpts from my diary


By Lindani Chirambadare

Dear Diary…

Today, as I was walking along Robert Mugabe Way, I witnessed sudden commotion as women balancing wares on their heads and carrying babies on their backs ran for dear life. I heard; ‘kanzuru, kanzuru! ‘(Council police! Council Police!). I looked back and saw a man’s wares being taken away. I imagined he was a family man; and that his family was waiting eagerly for him to provide for them. I imagined hope- the hope that he could be the kind of father who can provide for his family die in his eyes like a smothered candle wick. I imagined that one of those women, running for dear life was a widow, or a single mother, or an orphan heading a family.

One thing is certain, these women and men were trying to make an honest living the only way they know how. They were struggling to provide for their families. I remember how my own widowed grandmother raised her own children through vending. I, as other members of my family, benefitted- directly or indirectly- from that labour of love. Just like my grandmother, the women and men I saw today, were trying to make something out of their children’s lives, for them to be counted among others.

I am asking myself many questions as I write. Have the people in Council forgotten why they were elected? Have they lost touch with the reality that they were chosen to make the lives of these very same people they harass each day better? Are their actions making these women’s lives more secure or have they become the cause of their insecurity?

My heart bleeds for these men and women and yes I am shedding the solitary tear. I ask myself, what can I possibly do to change their lives? Right now, today, all I can do is tell their story but maybe someday…

Dear Diary…

On Fridays I finish work early. I usually cannot wait for Fridays because I just rush home to sleep and wind down. Last Friday however, I could not go home early because the combi (commuter omnibus) fare had risen by 100%. I had to wait for those mshikashika combis because they charged me less. To say that I was angry is an understatement. To say that I was pained is to belittle the emotion I felt. I stood there with many people who were as stumped as I was that the kombi fare had risen dramatically because the City Council in its wisdom required them to use the Coventry road terminus. I approached City of Harare representatives at the terminus and asked them why the fare had been hiked. They said it was none of their business. They said they were there just to implement what they had been told to do. They instructed me to talk to the combi owners. I did. The combi owners told me upfront; they were not passing a chance to  fares was and since there were no gazetted fares from the Road Motor Transport regulator at Mukwati Building, they were going to charge what they want.  I, the consumer, had no recourse whatsoever.

I looked at the old men and women around me who were stranded.  They were already cash strapped. Paying the usual five rand required by the Mshikashika combis was already hard for them. They were already too broke to go home, too broke to buy food or even water. Asking them to pay extra was milking them dry.  For a moment I thought; just pay the damn dollar and go home to rest. Heck, I needed some rest. But then again paying that dollar meant allowing this madness to continue. The right thing to do was to be part of a small civil resistance group, to stand in solidarity with others against the madness and refuse to pay the extra amount. And that is what I did.

Dear Diary…

Our very lives are trouble. Some may think there are bigger issues out there that I should worry about but these are the things that happen every day and in one way or another, they compromise my security. They make me feel unsafe. I wonder, does the Harare city council understand what the theme for the 16 days of activism really means? Do they know what it means to create “safe spaces” for women? Do they know that all these things they are doing compromise women’s safety and security?

What should I do? What can I possibly do? Today I will tell the story but maybe one day…