By Michele Munatswa, Information and Communication Officer – Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe (FAWEZI) Chapter
“When everyone understands that we all have power within, then it will be easy to achieve gender equality and equity. It becomes easy to share chores at home so that the burden of unpaid care work is not mostly affecting women,” says a 39-year-old man, Graster Ngandu from Shamva District in Zimbabwe.
Although Ngandu is a Village head and highly respected in his community, he helps his wife with household chores and looks after their two children when she is away. Since he works close to their homestead compared to the wife who works further from his home, Ngandu is usually the one who prepares the children for their next day of school. He makes sure they have clean uniforms and have done their homework.
According to the local societal gender stereotypes, a village head is a respected traditional leader in Zimbabwe who should not do household chores, usually delegated to women.
“Things where never like this before, I used to think house chores were meant for a woman and helping a woman meant I was not man enough. However, since I was trained as a SASA Together leader under the Towards Resilient Communities with Health, Equity and Safety for all ( TORCHES) project in Zimbabwe in June 2021 my perceptions have since changed,” said Ngandu.
The SASA! Together is a community mobilisation approach being used in preventing Violence Against women and Girls (VAWG) and it is based on the analysis and understanding of power imbalances as the root cause of VAWG.
“I now know my wife needs my support to positively contribute to the development of our family and that violence does not solve anything. I am now cascading the SASA Together model to the rest of the community members,” continued Ngandu.
“SASA! Together means NOW, meaning now is the time to address issues of unpaid carework,VAWG, gender equality and equity in the community. It is time to challenge the root causes of inequality for women and girls for safer commuinities,” said Ngandu.
Ngandu is one of the twenty-four community champions and leaders who have been trained under the SASA Together methodology in Shamva. These individuals conduct regular activities among family, friends and neighbours and others to spark reflection, dialogue, and action as well as commit to working on themselves- balancing power in their own relationships and lives.
Ngandu is currently facing resistance from his family and community for doing chores which are meant for women. Some of the men in his community say he has been bewitched by his wife. A few question his leadership and say he has grown soft however Ngandu is determined to break the gender stereotype in his community and restore balance of power between men and women.
“As I conduct my sessions, I have realised that both men and women have power within them. However, there is need for individuals to exercises their power positively without taking advantage of it.”
“With the knowledge I have, I want to reach everyone in my community so that everyone despite their sex, race and age are aware of their rights and how to exercise their power within without violating other’s rights. This will help in reducing cases of VAWG in the household and the community as everyone will be an equal partner with rights to be upheld,” said Ngandu.
The TORCHES project which is being implemented by the Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZ) in partnership with Action Aid Zimbabwe (AAZ), Family Aids Counselling Trust (FACT) and Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ) is using two methodologies of the Tuseme/ Speak out and the SASA! Together. The project is funded by the Peoples Postcode Lottery through Action Aid Zimbabwe and is being implemented in Shamva, Chitungwiza and Nyanga Districts.