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Despite the deepening financial crisis, WLP Zimbabwe/Women’s Self-Promotion Movement (WSPM) held a National Training of Trainers Institute from May 1-5, 2007 for 26 women leaders from 13 different community based organizations, NGOs, and religious groups. With inflation soaring past 4,500%, according to the government, and independent financial institutions estimating the actual rate to be double that amount, the situation in Zimbabwe is critical. About 80 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed, by some estimates.
"I have learned not to judge people and that it is not only my opinion that is right. I must listen to others and respect them. I felt better about myself. The main challenge I have now is to apply these skills in real life and integrate them into my personality. I now believe in equality between males and females, which I didn't really believe in before. When I have kids and become a mother, I will treat my daughters and sons equally!"
In Hausa, two different words refer to a leader or leadership. The first word, shugabanci, is more popular and refers to authoritarian leadership. The second word, jagoranci, refers to horizontal leadership. At the beginning, most of the participants felt that the first definition of leadership was more significant while the second definition only refers to someone who directs others but does not have the power to actually lead. At the end of the Institute, after much debate, participants came to the decision that leadership was not the ability to impose one’s desires on others, but rather to lead the people to a shared vision of the world we wish to create.
WLP and our Nigeria partner BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights convened a National Training of Trainers Institute (TOT) in Paynesville, Liberia in May for 25 women in leadership positions at community-based organizations focusing on women’s issues.
Due to government repression as well as the ongoing economic crisis in which inflation rates have soared past 1,000%, NGOs and specifically, women’s rights organizations, face a great deal of difficulty in the work they do on the ground. Violence against women is on the rise, and there has been an increase in the number of female-headed households as men leave to find jobs elsewhere. The HIV/AIDS pandemic adds to the crisis women and children are facing in Zimbabwe.
We are pleased to share that Ms. Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe has been named the Executive Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) headquartered in Kampala, Uganda. AMwA was founded to create space for African women to organize autonomously, identify issues of concern to them and to empower them to speak for themselves. AMwA aims to provide solidarity, support, awareness, and to link African women active in skills building and self-development.
In February 2006, WLP's Zimbabwe partner the Women's Self Promotion Movement (WSPM) brought together 50 leading activists and democracy workers from the Nyarugusu Congolese Refugee Settlement in Kigoma, Tanzania for a Leading to Choices leadership workshop. Participants were drawn from NGOs and smaller, community-based organizations active at the camp, including Association de Mamans Enseignantes, Solidarité Pour Le Développement, La Voix de Femmes de Fizi, Umoja wa Wanawake Wakristo wa Kigoma, and Fondation Muhamed Ali pour la Paix. The goal was to strengthen collaboration between organizations working to improve the lives of refugee women living in the camp.
In May and July this year, nearly 200 women from six countries in sub-Saharan Africa participated in human rights and leadership development workshops organized by WLP and its partners. The workshops took place in Zimbabwe and Tanzania as part of the regularly scheduled programming for the Women's Self-Promotion Movement (WSPM) and Umoja wa Akina Mama Fizi (UWAFI). The response from participants and facilitators to WLP's empowering, cooperative leadership strategies was very positive. The workshops' success was largely due to the excellent planning and organization of the NGOs, whose commitment to new models of leadership and consensus-building provided the workshops with real-life context and problem-focused content.
In the remote northeastern town of Taza in Morocco, twenty-five women and five men, participated in a leadership training workshop. The majority of participants were representatives of organizations involved with economic development, social services, education, poverty eradication, women's rights advocacy, and improving women's health. In Nigeria, in response to the recent resurgence in violence between Muslim and Christian groups in the country, a workshop was organized with twenty-five grassroots Muslim and Christian women in the northern city of Zaria.
Working together in the workshop setting, diverse groups of refugee women learned to recognize their own leadership capabilities and empowered themselves to improve the quality of life in the refugee camps, enhance their status as refugees in their hosts countries, and address conflict resolution and peace-building in their home countries.
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