Determination drives aspiring Councillor
Although Section 17 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for promotion of gender balance, women are still a long way from achieving equity. Full and equal participation of women, including assuming political or public office, has not yet been reached.According to the Zimbabwe Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) 2017 Gender Protocol Barometer women constitute 281 Councilors as compared to 1512 men.For women in the rural areas, it has been an impossible mission, for one, Sekesai Sande, from Bindura rural, her aspirations to defy the odds is an unstoppable driving force. She won the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC -T) primary elections and will be representing Ward 14 in Bindura as a Councillor.
Anyone with a background like hers can be excused for shying away from politics, but Sande did not allow her being a vegetables and groceries vendor, a mother and wife, dissuade her from entering into the political arena.Born 37 years ago, Sande grew up at Foothills farm in Bindura where her father was a farm worker. Sande did not have many options in life – being born and raised at a farm but she made a decision that against all odds, she will go after her dreams.She could not afford to stand and watch in view of the myriad of challenges that she and her fellow woman folk face on a daily basis. “For me self-representation in key decision making positions drove me into politics, I had to rise and take the lead,” she said.
“We have the Constitution, which calls for equal representation and that as a woman I can stand in an election,” Sande added. Section 17b (i) in particular states that both genders are equally represented in all institutions and agencies of government at every level.In the farming community where she resides, she saw young women and girls unable to go to school or finish primary education due to poverty and lack of economic opportunities in the area. “This has resulted in many young girls of school going age married off at a tender age and never get to realize their potential,” Sande said. As it stands more than 30 percent of girls are dropping out of school in the country.
The issue of gender discrimination with regards to access, control and ownership of agricultural resettled land, lack of access to productive resources and inability to access loans as an entrepreneur, buy stock and equipment for her business has been uphill struggle not only to her, but her fellow women folk in her community.Through door to door campaigns, Sande has been able to engage with people in her community. “Without access to land women are nothing and as a woman who understands this plight, I am determined to push and facilitate for women in the community to be considered for acquisition of land,” says Sande.
She also cited issues to do with gender based violence, which she hopes to stand for when she wins. Sande believes she can turnaround her community through facilitating change in infrastructural development and support women in their various economic initiatives.In the next five years, she says she would have established herself politically, through familiarizing herself with political processes to enable her to fully represent her community.“In our farming community we are behind in terms of development and accessing services. I am particularly keen on supporting women entrepreneurs, including improvement and provision of better health service delivery system in my community,” she added. Sande endeavors to support and push for women to have access to and control of agricultural land as stated by Statutory Instrument 53/14 on Agricultural Land Settlement Regulations.