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women plus final issue 2001
that legal reform has already made available. However,
the critical political Movement on the land issues for women
has not taken place.
The majority of women in the rural and urban areas
are not part of the Women’s Movement. I could be proved
wrong! Consequently the Women’s Movement tends to be
elitist and speaks for the other women who are consulted
through workshops. In this “Movement” however, we are
different and therefore hold different gender “political positions”. For me, this is healthy and it is a reflection of
women not being homogeneous - and we do not have to
be as long as we accept we are different. However, what is
critical is the engagement of the greater majority of women
who are in the rural areas.
A c c o u n t a b i l i t y
The above discussion brings into question the accountability of women’s organisations. The social and economic backgrounds of the leaders of women’s organisations are not necessarily the same as those of their constituency. The majority of the leaders of women’s organisations make up the Boards or National Councils or National Executive Committees. They are selected or elected
by a few with similar middle class backgrounds. Accountability seems to be more towards outside donors. Those
whose interests are served by the women’s organisations
are, for the most part, not represented on the boards or
national councils. From their perspective, they would probably talk of a Movement of “materialistic do-gooders” whose
aim is to provide welfare services to the poor. Some consultative structures are needed to ensure their views are
accounted for in the strategic plans and programs of women’s organisations.
Therefore, does a
Women’s Movement
exist in Zimbabwe?
A Women’s Movement, based on the definition I
have provided at the beginning, exists in Zimbabwe but it
is diversified and compartmentalized rather than one collective Movement. There is a Women’s Movement that is
challenging the social structures and barriers against women’s full participation. The Movement, especially since the
80’s, is vigorous, deep and profound. Its multi- pronged
nature is an acknowledgement that women’s needs differ.
Clearly there is a large force that is visible and has
been set in motion by women themselves to deal with
women’s issues. This force is not a formalized structure
but a fluid collective of women and women’s NGOs with
a common purpose, which is to promote the status and
general living conditions of women. The fact that this collective harbours various interests is considered immaterial
but what is crucial is that the sum total of their efforts does
lead into one direction, the improvement to women’s social, economic and political status and participation in development.
There is need to strengthen the Movement in terms of:
Collaboration and networking for synergy;
Linkages between micro and macro level interventions;
Engagement of the rural majority; and
Accountability to the majority.
Thokozile Ruzvidzo is co-founder of the
ZWRCN and former Chairperson of the Board
of Directors. She has recently left Zimbabwe
to join the ECA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopi but
remains with us in spirit and through that
wonderful technological development called
Information enables women to make choices. (Photo: T Davies, SAMSO)

WomanPlus [2001], Final Issue 2 (Nov) - 1/6