The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporter
FIRST Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa last week met spouses of uniformed forces with whom she held a heart-to-heart interactive session on issues to do with how women should conduct themselves in the home, family and community.
After the session, the First Lady, through her Angel of Hope Foundation, also imparted them with entrepreneurial skills.
During the interactions, the First Lady asked the women to identify qualities of an ideal woman.
In response, the beneficiaries described a woman of sound quality as one who fears God, dresses decently, holds the family together, shuns gossip and is a hard-worker.
Amai Mnangagwa encouraged women to embrace the spirit of hunhu/ubuntu, self-discipline and live exemplary lives in the community.
“Women are a key component in the family and community set-up, which makes it key for them to be morally upright and be able to stand as pillars for their families.
“Mudzimai akanaka anoziva Mwari, ane hunhu uye vanoshandira mhuri nekuvaka imba yake,” emphasised the Mother of the Nation.
Unlocking the potential in women is in line with the Angel of Hope Foundation’s vision of elevating lives around communities.
Through her works, Amai Mnangagwa offered detergent making intensive training to spouses of officers from across the country to enhance their entrepreneurial skills and set them on the path towards economic empowerment.
The interface, held in Harare with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols, witnessed the participants acquiring skills in making high quality and standard liquid soap and petroleum jelly among other household items which are competitive for any market.
The First Lady, through the Foundation, also handed over detergent making starter packs and certificates to all the participants.
The First Lady is spearheading various empowerment programmes to improve livelihoods in communities around the country.
“It is a pleasure meeting with the spouses of our Defence Forces from across the nation for such programmes that are aimed at empowering women with entrepreneurial skills,” she said.
The First Lady implored women to understand their roles in the family and community set-ups.
With cases of Gender Based Violence and divorce on the rise, the First Lady said women need to be morally upright by embracing the spirit of hunhu/ubuntu.
“A morally upright woman, who is empowered, has no time for quarrels and backbiting . . . she will be busy finding ways to build projects that improve the standard of living of her family.
“A good mother works hard for the upkeep of her family by engaging in various projects,” she added.
She described women as the glue that binds communities.
With Covid-19 wreaking havoc across the globe, livelihoods have been affected.
It is against this background that the First Lady called for women to stand as support pillars to their spouses and create a friendly home environment.
“Your husbands’ jobs come with huge responsibilities which means you have to support them,” she said.
Couples should work as a team in order to be able to provide for their families, said the First Lady.
Team work, she said, paves the way for healthy marriages and the fight against divorces and the escalating number of children living and working on the streets.
“Let us play our spousal roles by working hard to help develop and look after families.
“Let us love, respect and support our husbands as this creates peaceful homes and strong marriages,” said the First Lady.
She urged men to also reciprocate the love they receive from their spouses in order for their marriages to work.
A renowned strong proponent of women empowerment, the First Lady called for equality between women and men.
However, she cautioned the women against abusing the 50:50 equality concept by using it against their husbands in their homes.
“Kunyangwe mukatambira mari dzakainzana, asi baba ndibaba kana mava kumba, mudzimai anova submissive kumurume.
“At home, a woman should embrace her role as a mother and wife by remaining submissive to their husbands while on the other hand husbands as heads of the family should play their roles too,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
“When a woman knows and plays her role, it makes it easy for the husband to play his as well and that builds a strong household.”
She said addressing spouses with their official titles creates a gap between couples and can cause the breakdown of unions.
Jokingly she said,
“Handingamhoresi His Excellency ndichiti maswera sei President? Ndinoti maswera sei baba?
“The manner in which one speaks and carries herself in her home shows what type of person one is and the nature of the home you make; it is character that defines a person so let us be women of good character.”
Amai Mnangagwa also encouraged women to embrace managerial skills in order for their projects to thrive.
She said the programme participants should impart the knowledge they acquired to their families and other women in the various communities.
“As an individual, go and try to make the detergents by yourself and then teach others, start small and grow as you gain more experience. Apply the knowledge you have acquired here into your life endeavours, develop a business mind and unite as communities because it is only a united community that can prosper,” the First Lady said.
She advised women to grow their projects into bigger businesses through hardwork and good managerial skills.
Mrs Mercy Sibanda, the wife to the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, represented spouses of ZDF members, while Mrs Marian Chihobvu, the wife of the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Moses Chihobvu, represented spouses of ZPCS officers.
Mrs Sigauke, the wife to Zimbabwe National Army Commander, Lieutenant General David Sigauke and Mrs Kathy Moyo, the wife to the Commander Air Force Zimbabwe, Air Marshall Elson Moyo, represented spouses of ZNA and AFZ officers respectively.
The participants congratulated the First Lady for being honoured with the Order of Star of Zimbabwe Gold medal recently in recognition of her philanthropic work.
They also paid tribute to their husbands saying that it is from them that they have learnt to be disciplined.
Mrs Nyembezi Mhizha from Harare Central Prison applauded Amai Mnangagwa’s women empowerment drive, saying that it goes a long way in improving livelihoods.
She said the interactive sessions also gave women time to bond and a platform to brainstorm ideas that will develop their communities.
“We are grateful for these lessons because now we have something to reflect on and improve our families and ourselves as women and mothers.”
One of beneficiaries from Khami Prison who identified herself as Mrs Mahlathi thanked the First Lady for her lessons on women’s roles and duties.
She said the lessons help in the fight against divorces and broken marriages.
“This is a tough time due to Covid-19 and other economic hardships, most households are struggling to survive because we as women have been sitting idle.
“This programme could not have come at a better time, so let us all embrace this and go home equipped to work for our families and improve lives.”
Another beneficiary, Mrs Martha Chicha, paid tribute to Amai Mnangagwa for the life skills and the starter packs, which she said will ensure that every participant can start operating immediately.
She called upon women to impart the knowledge they received from Amai Mnangagwa to their communities in order to eradicate the Covid-19 induced poverty.
An official from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mrs Murwisi, commended the First Lady for creating a platform where women can acquire skills and managerial knowledge.
She implored women to embrace the Women and Community Development Fund, which offers them an opportunity to start businesses.
Mrs Murwisi also gave tips on how best women can team up and raise capital for various projects in their communities.
“If we come together, we can raise a lot of capital without much challenge but what is key in the process is honesty,” she said.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for women which gives us a chance to improve our lives.”
Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank chief executive officer, Dr Mandas Marikanda, also gave tips to women who intend to venture into detergent making and various other projects.
She called on the women to embrace the ZWMB facility in order to get loans and start their own projects.
“Honesty is a prerequisite in any business especially when one has acquired a loan.
Remember this is a women’s bank and it is up to us to ensure it survives by paying back what one would have borrowed.
After all, a good reputation is critical for anyone to excel,” said Dr Marikanda.
This was not the first time the Mother of the Nation has extended empowerment programmes to spouses of the uniformed forces.
Recently, she met with the spouses of Zimbabwe Republic Police officers before donating green houses for them through the Foundation, which is usually supported by various organisations across the country.
The country’s Health Ambassador also took the opportunity to encourage citizens to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and continue abiding by the World Health Organisation prevention guidelines.