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Helpline Zim promotes rural constitutional literacy

Close to 10 000 people in Shamva district have benefited from a Constitutional and Bill of Rights awareness campaign, a move that has seen villagers being equipped with necessary knowledge on the constitution and their rights in general. The programme, dubbed Enhancing constitutional awareness and citizen engagement on the Bill of Rights, started in 2018 and was concluded last month.

Standard Style’s reporter Jairos Saunyama (JS) caught up with Helpline Zimbabwe Trust director Eunice Hove (EH), whose organisation is leading the awareness campaigns.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

JS: Helpline Zimbabwe Trust is currently engaging communities in Shamva over constitutional issues. What exactly is taking place?

EH: We are enhancing constitutional awareness and citizen engagement on the Bill of Rights targeted at women and youths in Shamva district. The programme was implemented in 12 wards in that district.

JS: What is the response from the targeted people?  What is the main objective of such a programme?

EH: The participants or should I say beneficiaries reported that they were now conversant with most of the provisions on the Bill of Rights, topical issues being on women, children and  youth rights. Like I said earlier, our objective is enhancing constitutional awareness on the Bill of Rights and to promote citizen engagement with solution holders.

JS: How long is the programme going to last and what is your target audience?

EH: It was a three-year programme, which ended this year. It initially targeted women and youth, but through lessons learned and recommendations from the targeted audience, we had to rope in 25% men to act as arsenals of change in women  and youth rights.

JS: Why did you choose Shamva? Are you taking the programme to other districts?

EH: As we were implementing previous interventions, needs assessment and calls from both community  and ministries of Women Affairs and Youth pointed to the need for rights education and  thus the choice of Shamva. On the issue of rolling out the same programme in other rural areas, yes, funds permitting the rights awareness should spread nationwide. As we speak, the call to reach out to other wards in the Shamva district is huge.

JS: As of today, what is your verdict on issues to do with the constitution and human rights in rural areas? Are the people exhibiting knowledge on such matters?

EH: There are gaps that need to be filled especially in SRHR (sexual and reproductive health and rights) issues, SGBV  (sexual and gender-based violence) and voter education or registration incorporating national documentation. Yes, women’s comprehension of the constitution is superlative, with many of them exercising their rights by taking part in civic processes and leadership roles. Most women are exercising their right to work with many of them involved in nutrition gardening and livestock projects. Women and youth in the farming compounds are engaging solution holders in order to acquire national registration documents.

JS: How did you select the beneficiaries or participants for such a programme and what methods did you use to engage them given it’s a rural set-up?

EH: Ward councillors and ward coordinators as the community gatekeepers were utilised in the mobilisation process of community members. A vulnerability assessment criterion was then done by the community members themselves as they know each person’s extent of abuse better. Helpline Zimbabwe Trust took the role of facilitation. We entered into an MoU with the provincial leadership since most of our interventions are in the rural areas.

JS: How many people were reached and are you satisfied with the numbers?

EH: The total number of people reached was 11 823 comprising of 10 010 direct and 1 813 indirect beneficiaries. Based on the funding we had for such an initiative, yes, I can gladly say we managed to go over and above the expected number of beneficiaries.

JS: What is Helpline Trust Zimbabwe’s vision?

EH: Helpline Zimbabwe is a local non-governmental organization that was founded in 2008.Its vision is to achieve a fair and just society in which women and youths are treated with respect and dignity and have equal access to opportunities available to citizens of Zimbabwe.

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