The gender and leadership training that was received by Jekwa Ziphandeleni garden members, ward 3, Gwanda district has led to confident women who are able to freely air their opinions at ward meetings. The training was facilitated by Dabane Trust in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community development under the Programme Partnership Agreement (PPA) programme. Women in this area have always been limited to restricted society roles and operate mainly as wives, daughters and mothers. Venturing outside these prescribed social spaces has always attracted criticism and scorn from both men and other women who have remained adherents of the traditional order. The gender awareness and leadership training boosted women’s confidence and enabled them to apply and take up meaningful leadership positions in the ward. “The gender and leadership training boosted my self-esteem to an extent of where I had to be selected as a Chairperson of the Habakkuk Community Advocacy Action team in ward 3, said Gelizi Bhebhe, Jekwa garden group member. Women now hold strategic leadership positions in water projects as they are major players in water collection, transportation and management.
The women’s confidence has also been boosted through income generated from sale of produce. Garden members sell their carrots, butternut pumpkins, tomatoes, onions, spinach and beetroot to local villagers and various institutions in ward 3, Mzimuni. According to Sichelesile Gumbo, a garden members, they generate approximately $20-$40 a month from sale of produce. Income generated has enabled women to purchase productive assets such as wheelbarrows, shovels and picks. Wheelbarrows have eased women’s burden of carrying water and firewood on their heads. Carrying water using wheelbarrows has enabled women to carry large amounts of water per trip. This has meant that women nowadays have enough time to engage in other income generation activities like baking instead of spending the day fetching water for domestic purposes.
The PPA programme has also exposed garden members to market fairs and exchange visits for cross-pollination of ideas where they interact with various stakeholders, network and strengthen their marketing and business management skills. This has gone a long way in raising women’s confidence levels and enhancing their self-development.