ZICHIRE’s Safe Spaces Program Rescues UMP & Mudzi Women Who Experienced GBV During Lockdown

THE Zimbabwe Community Health Intervention Research (ZICHIRE) is implementing a program dubbed the “Safe Spaces” program in Mudzi and Uzumba, Maramba and Pfungwe (UMP) with the aim of empowering women who experienced Gender Based Violence (GBV) during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

By Michael Gwarisa

The humanitarian project is also aimed at capacitating and building resilient communities so as to prevent abuse at grassroots level. In an interview with HealthTimes, ZICHIRE Programs Manager, Mr Walter Chikanya said empowering women economically was one sure way of reducing GBV.

The program that we have in UMP and Mudzi is a humanitarian program that is earmarked or targeting women who have been facing Gender Based Violence (GBV) during the times of COVID-19.

“We have an initiative in those two districts where we have created safe spaces where we have said women should be in safe spaces where they can talk about their experiences and where they can have access to referral pathways in terms of where they can report the cases and where they can get services after they suffer GBV,” said Mr Chikanya.

He added that empowering women through information and safe spaces alone was not enough hence the need for economic empowerment activities which will see more women participating in community income generating projects.

“In as much as we identify, mitigate and also congetise them in terms of issues of GBV during COVID-19 or during disaster, we also then said information is not enough because some if them have been disempowered economically because of loss income during COVID-19.

“As you know, if you are also economically disempowered, chances of you being abused also increases. We came us with this idea of income generating projects for them. For sustainability purposes we then said the community also has be part of the project.

“They can bring in bricks and the builder but we have given other building material like roofing like nails, mash wire to be part of what they would have raised as a community then we provided them with day-old chicks and layers for both UMP and Mudzi. We provided about 1800 day old chicks and about 600 layers.”

ZICHIRE has established five Safe Spaces in each district and they all received the chicks and layers to kick-start poultry projects.

“It’s a poultry project that they can now start and we are also hoping that they can also pass it on to the next group. Once this group graduates, they can also give day old chicks to the next group so that it can be a continuous process and the project does not end with this particular group that we have given the first batch.

“We are there, we have the static programs and then we also have outreach programs. We have volunteers who are working with the static sites and then we also have outreach programs. We go out there and meet women in the community who might be going through similar cases of GBV. This is an integration of services like Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH), GBV and COVID-19,” said Mr Chikanya.

The Safe Spaces project is also being supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  The UNFPA has also come through to provide dignity kits and other services to help women during the COVID-19 period.

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