RWA Zimbabwe: Leadership Capacity strengthening workshop

RWA Zimbabwe, with the support of RWA Southern Africa and OSISA embarked on a Capacity Strengthening workshop aimed at strengthening the RWA leadership in Zimbabwe whilst fostering teamwork so as to make the RWA movement in Zimbabwe more accountable and inclusive of the women it seeks to serve and increasing the collective leadership of member organisations. The workshop was held at Bushman Rock in Harare on the 18th of August.

Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) Zimbabwe, like other movements, is a feminist membership formation of grass-root rural women farmers across  the country  brought together by common struggles and defence of the commons (land, sea, seeds, water, and the ecosystem). RWA builds the voice and agency of marginalised rural women farmers by challenging patriarchy and advocating for alternatives that support women’s land rights, seed, and food sovereignty as well as climate and environmental justice. RWA Partners in Zimbabwe are Women and Land in Zimbabwe (WLZ), Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), Centre for the Development of Women and Children (CDWC), Wadzanayi Community Development Trust (WCDT) and Zimbabwe SmallHolder Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF). 

The purpose of the Capacity Strengthening  workshop was to strengthen   RWA  Zim leadership so that it is  properly structured and organised to carry out its mandate at national and regional level, the  exercise also aimed at  building capacity of the  leadership so that they have increased collective power to work as a team to achieve RWA objectives and lastly to  strengthen capacity of leaders  to better lead, influence and be accountable to members.

RWA Zimbabwe believes in a leadership process that is based on Collectivism and as such there is direct leadership of the Movement by the members themselves. Members are predominantly drawn from small scale farmers, farm workers, peasants, and smallholder producers. Members are the highest form of leadership as they make up the Annual General Meeting (AGM) at which key strategic decisions are made. At grass-root level we have RWA clusters consisting of 3-4 villages led by a Cluster coordinator who reports to the Ward coordinator but collaborates with the Cluster committee. Leadership at this level is 100% composed of the rural women farmers. The National Leadership is composed of representatives from member organisations where 1 or 2 members represent the country chapter at regional level. 

The workshop was led by a facilitator who is well vested with knowledge on movement building. She described the importance and purpose of movement making references to five human senses: sense of feeling, hearing, touch, sight and smell. By sense of feeling the facilitator expressed that  the movement has to be felt or experienced,  sense of sight she said the movement must be seen  not to be assumed that it exist, sense of hearing  she expressed it as by saying rural women’s struggles must be heard and action must be taken, sense of touch  she referred it as the practicality on the  movement : what is  being done to contribute on the movement building and lastly was sense of smell  and she described  it by saying  the  movement  must be felt everywhere in as far as women struggles concerned. All these expressions helped the leaders to visualise on how a strong movement can be built and sustained. The facilitator also alluded that the movement needs to be continuously fuelled by collective energy for betterment of the movement and its members.

The leaders were also taken through challenges which are faced within a movement, and these were expressed by 5Ps (People, Partnership, participation, power, and politics). People : this was explained as  that people come from different political positions   and hence they may have different  agenda and these may  cause problems within the movement if they are not addressed  well,  Partnership :  here it was  highlighted that some  partnerships within the movement may be harmful and may create conflicts, Participation :  again  the trainer said that participation in different platforms may cause harm to the movement hence the leadership also need to be vigilant in all the processes, Power:  there might be misuse of power by members and leaders who have different portfolios, and  the  last P   she said some members or leaders may be political, therefore all the requirements, duties and responsibilities within the movement must be clearly out. 

The workshop was also reinforced by a team building exercise in which all the leaders participated.  The leaders took different games and exercises, some of them which were challenging and required one to be a critical thinker and some of them required leaders to come and work together as a team. The Team building exercise helped team Zimbabwe to have clarity on movement building and how to sustain a movement. Some of the major issues that were debated and agreed on include: Having a clear common Advocacy Agenda based on women’s political struggles (land, seeds, climate change, bodily autonomy, patriarchy and capitalism),Managing member expectations and making bold decisions, Holding each other accountable and manage takers versus contributors, Have updated RWA Governance Policies, Manage partnerships and minimum number of members that an organisation should have to participate as a member organisation.In conclusion the workshop highlighted that building a movement is about bringing people with common interests and goals together, working through issues with a democratic decision-making process, building solidarity and trust among people, and building skills and leaders in the group. This is all enshrined in Rural Women Assembly 3 pillars which are empowerment, Solidarity and Campaign. The workshop and team building exercise equipped RWA Zim team leaders with all important skills that are crucial in building collective voice and power so as to sustain the movement.

Leave a Reply