Local councillors at the final workshop of the training programme "Local leaders – capacitating women in Zimbabwe".
Photo: Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy
Women councillors bring development to their communities
With improved leadership skills and new ideas about democratic governance, 24 local women councillors from all over Zimbabwe recently finished a one-year training programme run by the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy.
The final workshop of the training programme "Local leaders – capacitating women in Zimbabwe" recently took place in Harare. The programme, run by the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD), has trained 24 women local councillors in leadership skills and democratic governance. The women were elected in the 2013 elections and represent different parties throughout the country. The 12-month training included activities in both Zimbabwe and Sweden.
Around the world women are severely underrepresented in political decision making bodies. One important objective of the programme was to train elected women officials so that they can act as advocates and role models for other women considering a career in politics, promoting a higher degree of political involvement of Zimbabwean women.
Peaceful collaboration inspiring participants
At the closing workshop the women shared what they had learned during the past year and their goals for the future. One lesson learned during the visit to Sweden was that collaboration between politicians with different party affiliations is possible. Another highlight of the visit was the opportunity to follow Swedish politicians during the electoral campaign and study the Swedish elections at close quarters. Considering Zimbabwe's history of violent election campaigns, one of the participants made an important statement:
"I know now that it's possible to campaign peacefully without calling each other names or inciting violence".
All the women expressed how much confidence they had gained during the programme and how their increased leadership skills had gained them respect and improved their possibilities to bring development to their communities. One councillor described how dissatisfied constituents had approached her and that she after the training had the courage to talk to her supervisors and demand change for these voters.
Hard work ahead
The women had many goals for developing their communities and wanted to share what they had learned.
"We have not been trained to be admired but to perform hard work for our children and our grand-children", said one of the participants.
Maria Selin, Head of Development Cooperation in Zimbabwe, is very pleased with the programme and is opening up for its continuation.
"The programme has proven to be very rewarding for these women. They have not only seen how democracy can work in practice, but they are now important role-models who can inspire many more to work for development."