RWA Zimbabwe: Annual National Meeting

From the 29th to the 31st of August RWA Zimbabwe held its 8th annual national meeting which brought close to 5000 rural women together. The meeting was held at Rongwe High School, located in Makoni district in Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe. In attendance were government officials from Ministries of Women Affairs, Lands and agriculture, Makoni Rural District Council, Councillors, Chiefs and Headmen, village heads, District Administrator, development partners, stakeholders from business community, rural women from 2 SADC countries [Mozambique and Zambia], and women and men from the neighbouring wards. 

2023/24 seasonal outlook reported predictions on El Nino (which is usually characterised by drought and floods). In this regard RWA Zimbabwe reflected long and hard and see it worthwhile to continue reinforcing 2022-year theme: “REBUILDING RURAL WOMEN’S LIVELIHOODS AND RESILIENCE THROUGH SHARING OF ALTERNATIVES DURING AND POST DISASTERS’. Rural women are the most affected by climate change and climate change related disasters, hence they need to be continuously capacitated with information on alternatives so that they cope better (taking appropriate actions and responding early). 

Annually RWA Zimbabwe holds a national meeting which is a safe platform for rural women to learn, share experiences and exchange knowledge. Additionally, this platform is also created for women to physically engage with policy makers and duty bearers presenting their issues and demanding and defending their rights (water, land, environment).  This year 2023, women amplified their voices and demanded climate justice, made presentations to policy makers on corporate capture of indigenous seeds and food systems, demanded climate change funds and gender technologies that support them to cope with climate change.

The first day of the meeting had two sessions (morning and afternoon session). The morning session focused on discussion on 5 main topics which include Climate Change(redefining regenerative agriculture), Advocacy for just transition and energy poverty, Gender Based Violence, Fighting food imperialism, Food Systems/ Seed systems, Women’s Land Struggles (security of tenure- farmer miner conflicts). Women were grouped into 5 groups and participated in all groups using the Word Café approach.

The afternoon session was a teach-in session, women were taught on different practicals they can embrace using their locally available resources. The sessions were also conducted using the World Café approach to make sure everyone had an opportunity to participate. The teaching in practicals included: Making stock feed using local resources, Value addition (adding value to local produce and branding, pricing), Low-cost Solar Dryer making and Recycling (Bag Making, Crocheting).

The last day was policy day. Women had an opportunity to meet with policy makers and presented their issues and demanded climate justice, refusing false climate change solutions, increased access and ownership of land with water and they also demanded justice in fighting food imperialism and corporate capture of indigenous seeds.

Apart from the main event there was a farmers\’ market which was running. Women brought a variety of produce (fresh and dried vegetables, tubers, grains, variety of seeds, and a variety of value-added products). The farmers’ market also created an opportunity for learning, sharing and seed exchange as part of promoting growing of indigenous seeds and food. The meeting ended on a positive note with the policy makers, government stakeholders, local leadership, business community funding partners and RWA regional sisters commending RWA Zimbabwe for successfully hosting the 8th Annual National Meeting.

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