Women in Umguza district have embarked on a livelihoods program to economically empower gender-based violence (GBV) survivors.
The Swedish Embassy, Thursday, toured the district to assess some of the projects the survivors are working on.
The projects are supported by the Zimbabwe Association of Church Related Hospitals (ZACH), Start Awareness Support Action (SASA) and Ministry of Women Affairs who assist the survivors with skills and funding.
Faith Mutete programs officer for SASA said they are pleased with the progress made and the dedication displayed by the survivors.
Mutete explained their organisation opted to identify the women as survivors instead of victims because they have already made it through GBV.
She said under the program they have established a one-stop centre where women can access comprehensive assistance all under one roof.
“The fact that they have survived to make it to the one-stop centre to make reports of the abuse they face makes them survivors; they are no longer victims. Victims are those who still succumb to abuse without speaking out,” said Mutete.
“The one-stop centres we have set up give the survivors access to legal services, health care services, police and counselling,” she said.
Mutete said support groups have been established where the survivors meet regularly to share experiences and strengthen one another.
“It is not easy to open up and share such traumatic experiences. These support networks hence have set up support groups for these survivors to meet up frequently and get professional counselling and they also get a chance to counsel and strengthen each other,” said Mutete.
Ministry of Women Affairs district programs officer Sichelesile Moyo said the ministry saw a need to empower the survivors with life skills they would use to enhance themselves economically.
She said research they carried out showed that most women were subjected to GBV because of failure to sustain themselves economically.
“Women are usually dependent on men. Due to the economic constraints, most conflicts erupt when men fail to provide for their families. We thus identified the need to train these survivors on skills which would enhance their way of life,” said Moyo.
“The ministry has since trained the survivors on a number of courses which include making drinks, soap (bars, liquid and powder), floor polish, tailoring among others. They have since taken this opportunity with great zeal and to date their lives have improved,” said Moyo.
The GBV survivors were also allocated a piece of land at Nhlambabaloyi Primary School where they have set up a gardening project.
They supply nearby schools with vegetables to help supplement the pupils’ diet.