Women are providers, leaders and innovators.
They are drivers of economic growth and peace-building and yet for a long time their narrative has been out of their hands.
As commemorations for International Women’s Month — which themed “Transforming Women’s Lives through Economic Empowerment” — continue, Zimbabwean women write their own stories.
Daphne Bayayi took advantage of the Land Reform Programme that increased Zimbabwean women’s access to land and productive resources. Trading her profession as an industrial metallurgist for farming, Daphne now operates a successful tobacco farm that exports a world-class products.
“Farming isn’t an accident to me, I’ve always loved farming but the right opportunity hadn’t availed itself to me,” explains Daphne. “I just love the sight of crops in the field.” Daphne began commercial tobacco farming in 2008 on a 25-hectare farm in Centenary.
“I’m a benefactor of the land reform in Zimbabwe,” Daphne says. “Government policies ensure that women own land and I’m grateful for that.
“Half of my tobacco is done on irrigation and the other half is on dry land,” says Daphne. “For tobacco curing, I use conventional means, the Modro system and the rocket barn. In agriculture, what helps us cut our costs as farmers is mechanisation and I’m moving towards fully mechanising my farm.”
For long, tobacco farming has been the preserve of men. But Daphne is defying the stereotype.
“It’s important to enhance women’s capacity in farming because women know how to grow anything and everything. I’m pleased with my rewards in farming because it has become my source of living and I’m able to take care of my family.
“The underlying thing in every business is to be able to make a profit and to do so one needs to watch their costs. And that has been secret to success. Moreover, my husband has been very supportive of new venture. He even encouraged me to acquire a degree in agriculture and I have since completed my course.”
Apart from tobacco, Daphne is also into livestock production.
Women’s empowerment has become a central theme of Government’s development agenda.
But charity begins at home! Before dwelling on what Government does for women, we also have to interrogate what women do for women.
Mundaula Kaunda, affectionately known, as Mundi is working on defeating the “pull-her-down syndrome” by holding Tete’s Lunch every quarter.
Tete’s Lunch brings together women from all walks of life to share business ideas, and health and wellness tips over a long, leisurely meal.
“Tete’s Lunch was a concept born six years ago . . . and it has since evolved to economic empowerment of the woman,” explains Mundi.
“The emancipation of women begins with the women themselves,” Mundi says. “The common myth that women can’t help each other, let alone stand for each other, has to be done away with completely. It has to be dismissed and proven to be nothing but a fallacy hence the main idea behind Tete’s Lunch.
“Women suffer from the pull her down syndrome, which impedes progress. It hinders the success of many women who fall victim to it.”
At every Tete’s Lunch meeting nearly 100 women come together.
“Women move around with a lot of scars, and the lunch besides empowering fellow women, it’s about healing as women share their ordeals in life and how they overcame them,” adds Mundi.
“It’s all about building each other. Our motto is don’t look down upon others because you don’t know who will lift you up tomorrow.”
Evonne Mudzingwa aka Eve is an avid ultra-marathon runner who is bent on changing women’s lives through fitness training.
For almost a decade now, Eve has been training women and sharing in their fitness and wellness journey, their triumphs and disappointments.
Eve says many women want instant results and lack motivation to consistently train.
“I want to put the message across that fitness is not about size or shape … I am creating a gym where women feel safe to train, unjudged and not pressurised – a safe haven. My vision is to build more than just a training facility but a sisterhood,” says Eve.
In January 2009, Eve introduced Lesmills Body Combat at Lifestyles gym in Borrowdale Brooke, Harare.
That same year, Eve’s Exercise Studios (now Eve’s Fitness Studios) was started at a ZB Sports Club non-members lounge. The studio moved in June 2009 into a rundown prefabricated rugby changing room and there Eve’s Fitness Studios was born.
Eve’s Fitness Studios was initially a ladies-only fitness aerobics centre. While still quite focused on women, it now offers unisex classes in the evenings. Morning classes are for the ladies.
“In my many years in this industry, I have sadly noticed that many women are trying to achieve the impossible. When they come to the gym they are trying to look like the magazine cover model and when they don’t achieve that look they are discouraged, dejected and quit altogether,” she says. Eve’s Fitness Studios has partnered companies in providing employee and client wellness programmes.
She has now started Eve’s Fitness Battles; team-based events that come three times a year and are fitness competitions in different disciplines.
“My vision is to build a fitness brand that encompasses more than just weight loss; a brand that embraces wellness in its entirety, the lifestyle that it is,” Evonne says.
Eve is Lesmills group fitness instructor, certified by Mefitpro in Dubai, and a Zumba network certified instructor.
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