Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi: Bringing partners together
A few weeks ago we brought three of our partner organisations from different countries together in Harare, Zimbabwe to discuss ways of promoting and supporting women’s leadership. The exchange was hosted by our partner the Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) and attended by the Zambia National Women’s Lobby and the Malawi National Women’s Lobby Group.
Juliet Chibuta, Executive Director of the Zambia National Women’s Lobby, shared her initial thoughts on the Exchange and how useful it has been:
“The Exchange visit is going on well and we have learnt so much from WIPSU. Apparently, there are so many similarities amongst WIPSU, ZNWL and Malawi NWLG in terms of challenges and issues in supporting women’s participation in decision making.
We were discussing on how these issues could be handled at the level of South African Development Community Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, especially on demands by MPs to be paid allowances for every meeting.”
One of the major barriers which prevents women from participating in politics in that they are less likely to have access to financial resources than male candidates, so an allowance for MPs is a way of ensuring they have the independent income necessary to do the job. If a woman has caring responsibilities or little money for transport then every meeting can make a difference.
“Otherwise we have learnt so much on how closely they work with women MPs and Councillors and how they have formed permanent structures in the female MPs and councillors constituencies and wards which engage with the communities throughout the MP and Councillors terms. We went to the constituency of one female MP, 500km away from Harare and saw how these communities are in support of the female MP.”
With some new funding from the Dutch government we are supporting new projects in five countries to promote female leadership and political participation. One of the key aspects of these projects will be creating mechanisms for women to hold their representatives to account and raise issues with them.
“We also met the WIPSU Board who gave us tremendous ideas at policy level that my Board member is thinking of sharing with the rest of our Board. We also met various WIPSU partners. We also got so many ideas on how we could initiate the Women Campaign Fund which WIPSU has also been grappling to form.”
Like women’s organisations in the UK our partners struggle to raise the funds they need to do their vital work. As well as fundraising on their behalf we provide training for our partners in fundraising from national and international donors, but it’s great to be able to bring partners together to share their experiences and ideas for independence and sustainability – that is our shared goal.