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Walking in the Shoes of our daughters in Bindura.

The sleepy community of Chiveso in Bindura burst into life on the 27th of April with  hundreds of villagers being treated to a soccer match, free food, drama performances and live music by two of the country’s leading musicians, Leonard Zhakata and Diana Samkange, all in an effort to improve the lives of women, especially girls.  

The event, which was a culmination of a five day series of community dialogues on gender themed, Lets walk in the Shoes of our daughters was organised by Padare/The Men’s Forum in partnership with the Swedish Embassy, UNAIDS and the Government of Zimbabwe to at create debate on the kind of life girls live as opposed to boys in the similar communities. Through the dialogues, the community was encouraged to stand back and start walking in the shoes of girls, so as to understand what the girls go through in their everyday lives.

The message to walk in the shoes Zimbabwe’s daughters was shrewdly packaged as entertainment and people enjoyed the series of shows from morning till sunset. 

Also present at the show were ZAPSO, NAC and the New Start Centre who provided on site Sexual Reproductive Health education to the people. The later had an onsite voluntary counselling and HIV testing booth where villagers who wanted to know their status were assisted.

Dignitaries who attended the event included, the Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe His Excellence Lais Ronnas, Local village Headmen, UNAIDS representatives and other local leaders.

Commenting on the day, the Ambassador said, “It was a great day with lots of entertainment and important messages about giving girls opportunities and not discriminating. He added that people want to be associated with what is good in life and being associated with entertainment was good. He carried on saying family fun days were also an important way of putting behaviour change messages across in his home country.

Another diplomat, Ms Sandra Aslund described the family fun day environment as “positive, relaxed and happy. She said she hoped people got the message adding that she was very excited to see the local leadership involved in activities that empower women. She however, bemoaned the lack of action that normally succeeds commitments towards gender equality saying, “People lose faith if there is no action to help people to change and adhere to positive behaviour. She encouraged organisations like Padare to make more effort to include more women in their gender dialogues saying, “If the girls don’t come to the meetings, the organisations should go to where the girls are because girls are not as mobile as boys.

The local traditional leadership also welcomed the initiatives to empower women saying such initiatives empower whole communities. Headman Chiveso encouraged Padare to continue maintaining a presence in his area saying the projects benefitted the society. He continued saying that he no longer looks from the background but he is now in the forefront of gender empowerment initiatives through his membership to Padare. He blamed gender based inequality on lack of knowledge, also stressing the need for continuous gender education from the top to the bottom.

Mr William Majuru, a villager and a member of a Theatre Arts ensemble that performed at the group praised Padare and all the other organisations that were involved in the event saying that the project shone   some light into his community. He said the message that the girl child must be valued was now very clear to the community, especially after celebrities like Leonard Zhakata and Diana Samkange spoke about it.

The event organisers, Padare said they were happy proceeding went well according to plan. “The turnout was great and our message was clear and consistent throughout the day.  Communities should work towards empowering girls because they continue to be at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts. Everyone should walk in the shoes of the daughters of Zimbabwe if there is to be any positive change, said Padare.