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Local Action for Gender Aware Peace, Prosperity and Planet in Zimbabwe

Promoting gender aware peace, prosperity and planet in 68 Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government in Zimbabwe.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

This project concerns the strengthening of the Gender Links Zimbabwe (GLZ) Gender Justice and Local Government programme through the establishment of 20 provincial resource centres - Dura/Isiphala hubs - to anchor and enhance gender-responsive peace, planet and prosperity. Dura/Isiphala is a Shona/Ndebele name for a granary which stores food in a family or community. The term is also used to refer to an archive or storehouse of knowledge. Zimbabwe will have its first elections without Robert Mugabe as president on 30 July. The COE, with their Post 2015 Gender Action Plans, are an effective model for promoting local peace building and sustainable development. The elections offer the opportunity to move into phase two of this unique community bridge building initiative through the older COE's twinning with at least two neighbouring councils, altogether covering the 68 COEs. The idea arose from a consultation with Gender Focal Persons at the close of the first phase in March 2017. In Phase One (2010 to 2017), 68 (close to two thirds) Zimbabwe’s councils went through ten stages to become COE for Gender in Local Government. Some of these councils, especially the very first ones, have shown considerable growth, leadership and commitment. These are well placed to take over leadership of the programme, through the “each one teach one” approach. The first phase, endorsed by the Ministry of Local Government, is documented in the book and video, At the Coalface, Gender @Work in Local Government (see attachments). The Dura/Isiphala hubs will build on the strengths of councils that have shown commitment to provide a hand up to their neighbours. Each will twin with at least two other councils (48 in total). Ownership of the programme will thus be transferred to the councils, building on the peer learning and sharing in the first phase, limiting GLZ’s role to to support, backstopping, standard setting, and partner coordination.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The programme will work through the 20 Town Clerks/CEOs of Hub Councils . It includes training and induction of about 200 councillors at least half of whom are women after the elections in July 2018. The footsoldiers of this programme will be the 68 Gender Focal Persons in the hub and spoke councils. A key new constituency are the junior councillors in the COE - at least 10 in each council, 680 in total, 340 young men and 340 young women, age 15 to 18. The End Violence, Empower Women programme will reach at least 15 women in each council - a total of 1020 survivors of gender violence, half of whom will be young women below the age of thirty, as part of GL's mission to "end violence before it starts". In total, the 68 COE cover a population of 10 million ultimate beneficiaries, of whom 51% are women and 60% young people. The Post 2015 Gender Action Plans anchored in the "leave no one behind" mantra of the SDGs aim to cascade to all those served by their councils.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government pioneered by GL in ten Southern African countries is a unique model globally. No other NGO has undertaken such visionary work on gender and local development. Despite the political volatility in Zimbabwe over the last decade, GLZ has one of the most extensive COE programmes, that is especially relevant now, as the country heads to what promises to be a free and fair election after many decades of mismanagement. The COE model is unique in bringing together peace, planet and prosperity where it matters most - at the local level, or coalface of development. It does so through the prism of women's equal and effective participation in local governance and development. In its first decade the Zimbabwe programme has delivered tangible results, showing how women's access to decision-making and productive resources delivers peace and prosperity. The next phase will transfer full ownership of the programme to councils and communities.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Gender Links is an award winning Southern African women's rights organisation that has championed the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, including through 425 Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government in ten Southern African countries. Featured in a UN Economic Commission for Africa compendium of Seven Best Practices on Gender Mainstreaming in Africa, the COE model is a unique, people and results driven approach to planet, peace and prosperity.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

GL began its work specialising in gender and the media. This led us into the area of women in decision-making. We soon realised the absence of any discussion on women in decision-making at the local level. We started our research series - At the Coalfacace, Gender in Local Government, including in Zimbabwe. After working on strategies at the national level on gender and local government, we realised we needed to work council by council, community by community to bring about change.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace is influenced by the political context. Zimbabwe became independent in 1980, after a protracted war against white settler colonialism. Sadly after a promising start, Zimbabwe was reduced to almost bread basked status by its first president Robert Mugabe who finally stepped down in 2017 due to pressure within his party. The closing of political space reflects in women's low level of participation: women constitute a mere 16% of councillors in Zimbabwe. The COE programme, emhasising women's equal and effective participation in politics, has been a unique builder of bridges between political parties. It needs to be strengthened following the 2018 elections, the first since independence without Mugabe at the helm. The programme's specific focus on ending gender violence, local economic development, and women's participation in efforts to mitigate against climate change at the local level makes it unique in development practice. All three are pressing priorities in Zimbabwe.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The Zimbabwe Association of Local Government Authorities (ZILGA) bringing together all the local councils in Zimbabwe is the major partner. GLZ will work with SAFAIDS on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Prigramming. Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) works within the framework of Gender and Corruption, a common occurrence in public sector management. The hubs can tap into the information and resources by TIZ. GIZ will draw on its partnership with International Centre for Local Democracy for capacity building of new women councillors. The Women in Local Government Forum will promote the participation and representation of women in decision making positions. Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe Lobbying and Advocacy for women’s rights. Econet/NetOne: Cell phone company provider will be lobbied to reduce data costs and assist in developing aps for the Community of Practice. GLZ will work with UNWOMEN and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum in sharing learning globally.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

This is the second phase of a programme that has demonstrated results through buy-in from the policy to the implementation level. Described as the "programme of choice" for gender mainstreaming by the Ministry of Local Government, the COE model has the endorsement of government, and of ZILGA, the local government association. All 68 councils have elected to join the COE programme, and they take pride in it. The second phase "hub and spoke" model prompts the COE to take even greater ownership.

Geographic Focus


How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

This is a three year programme, as the "hub" and spoke model will be rolled out in three phases: ten hubs in the first year, and five hubs in each of the subsequent two years. This is to enable learning to be built into the roll out.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

FINALZIM COE booklet 2017.pdf

A summary of the impact of the first phase of the Zimbabwe Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government


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