Youths challenged to be gender sensitive

“…promoting women empowerment is not anti-men”, youths told.
National Youth Development Trust in collaboration with MS Zimbabwe Action-aid held a three day Gender Awareness and Gender Analysis Training seminar, targeting members of the Bulawayo Youth Council who are representatives of the youths in the twenty-nine wards of Bulawayo.
The workshop was to raise awareness and enhance the understanding of gender concepts and gender analysis by young people. This was done to promote gender balance, equal opportunities and empowerment programmes for both men and women. As young leaders, it was envisaged that Zimbabwe’s patriarchal society may make it difficult for them to enhance youth participation in local governance issues and in carrying out other developmental projects in their wards. The module was hence designed to equip participants with broad gender analytical skills to enable them to survey the environments they will be working in and hence implement the most effective gender methods possible.
In her presentation, Ms B Mugambe of MS Zimbabwe Actionaid emphasized the need to strike a balance of roles for both men and women as it will ensure the creation of structures and opportunities for women’s participation in decision making at all levels. She also stressed that the cross-cutting nature of gender concerns, is everyone’s responsibility hence the need to come up with creative ways of engaging men and boys as well in order to improve the status of women and girls.
It was also cited that more often than not, gender is associated with women an aspect which should be handled with caution as the approach will determine the reception of the gender policy. The youths were urged to be careful in lobbying for equality as trying to fight male chauvinism with extreme feminism might propel men to take a defensive stance and reject the whole idea of gender policy and equality.
“By promoting women empowerment, we are not anti-men”, Mrs Mugambi said.
During the deliberations, participants were enlightened on the fact that gender relations and inequalities are fundamental causes of poverty as women and girls child do not enjoy the same status, power, access and control over resources as much as their male counterparts do. This has in turn led to other challenges like the increase in HIV and AIDS cases amongst youths especially females. As such there is need for communities to equally value both women and men.
The Bulawayo Youth Councilors expressed their gratitude for the conduction of the workshop and shared the same sentiments that the knowledge they acquired will go a long way in mainstreaming gender issues in their community projects. It is expected that from this workshops youth councilors will conduct ward based meetings to disseminate the information and knowledge gained from this process as well as initiate a brain storming session on other gender based programmes to be implemented in each ward according to their special needs.

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