Advertisement

Zimbabwean Diocese Launches Empowerment Program in Fight against Gender Based Violence

Credit: Courtesy Photo

Zimbabwe’s Catholic Diocese of Masvingo is empowering women through self-help initiatives in view of ending “the scourge” of gender-based violence (GBV) in that part of the country. 

In an initiative dubbed SASA Faith that is under the auspices of the humanitarian and developmental arm of the Zimbabwean Diocese, Caritas Masvingo, women are empowered economically through investments and life skills.

“The thrust of the Diocese is to bring an end to the scourge of GBV in families and communities through SASA Faith in Action, a project whose aim is to encourage peace and tranquility,” officials of Caritas Masvingo say in a Wednesday, September 15 report.

“SASA is an acronym which stands for Start, Awareness, Support and Action,” they say, and explain, “The Start phase is when the project is introduced to families and communities so that they are aware of the problem of GBV.”

In the report, the Field Officer of Caritas Masvingo, Hardlife Takawira, is quoted as saying that the initiative “empowers women to participate in decision making at household and community level through economic strengthening initiatives.”

Advertisement

“This means training women in internal savings and lending, which is a success story in Bikita and Masvingo,” Mr. Takawira says of the SASA Faith in Action initiative and adds, “The project is also meant to develop individual skills on how to run income generating activities such as soap making, small livestock production, market gardening and tailoring.”

Empowering women economically is important because it “reduces the rate of conflicts and ultimately GBV as women do not have to over depend on their husbands,” the Caritas Masvingo official says,

He explains, “The idea is to increase the leadership of women at all levels and to facilitate ownership of property by women so that they cooperate in the running of their families.”

Cases of GBV have been on the rise owing to COVID-19 lockdowns in the country, a situation that had a negative effect on people’s livelihoods, with limited sources of income for many families. 

In the report published by Catholic Church News Zimbabwe, Caritas Masvingo Ex-Officio Director, Fr. Walter Nyatsanza, says the ongoing SASA Faith in Action initiative “is meant to empower women so that they are strengthened individually or as a group.”

More in Africa

Fr. Nyatsanza highlights various beneficiaries of the SASA initiative that Caritas Masvingo is realizing in partnership with the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ), Full Gospel Church, and Zion Christian Church (ZCC).

“The program addresses local leaders, women and men so that they find solutions to the problem of GBV and to assist our culture to transform,” says Fr. Nyatsanza.

There has been a culture of treating women as second-class citizens thereby exposing them to all kinds of manipulation, the Zimbabwean Priest says.

“The Gospel uplifts the dignity of every person no matter one’s gender,” Fr. Nyatsanza says and adds, “The SASA Faith program aimed at teaching people that conflicts are resolved through dialogue and not violence.”

In the report, Caritas Masvingo officials outline the phases of the collaborative initiative, SASA Faith in Action, saying, “The Awareness phase means mobilizing the public against the scourge. Through the Support phase, the people are capable of identifying cases of GBV and they are ready to take Action through community support systems and line ministries available in the area.”

Advertisement

“When churches embrace the message of fighting GBV, the same message will cascade to all communities and families because most people belong to one denomination or another.” Caritas Masvingo Coordinator, Martha Zvarevashe, has been quoted as saying.

Ms. Zvarevashe adds that the SASA faith methodology is used so as not to leave anyone behind.

“We feel it is important to engage all stakeholders including community leaders so as to empower all structures in dealing with the plague,” she says, and adds, “More and more people now know about their rights through the SASA Faith. They also know pathways to follow in addressing issues to do with GBV.”