PAS offers space for intimate gender and empowerment conversations

Harare, April 24 2018: Two women’s organizations- As I Am Foundation and Munondida Foundation- have launched a quarterly discussion series- “Coffee and Conversations-” to create space for open conversation on gender issues as well as women empowerment.  The first information session was held at the American Embassy’s Eastgate offices last Thursday and focused on sexual abuse in recognition of Sexual Abuse Month (April).

Participants shared important tips about preventing date rape, adjusting to cultural trends regarding dress as well as tips on handling post-traumatic stress related to abuse. Noting figures from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Office (ZimStat) which show an 81 per cent increase in rape cases between 2010 and 2016, participants expressed concern at the failure to contain the trend. A legal expert explained the interpretation of consent in legal parlance igniting a fierce debate from participants who included two males and over 20 women.

During the event, invited participants donated sanitary wear. “We are excited that we are able to create this intimate setting that allows participants to openly explore deep cross cutting issues,” said Bernice Bore, director of Munondida Foundation. “We were able to raise a total of 70 packs of pads which we will donate to underprivileged women. We will continue to raise funds and collect pads which we intend to distribute next month for Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28,” she added.

Bore started Munondida Foundation, a humanitarian organization that facilitates sustainable projects for rural women such as potato framing and bee keeping in Nyanga, and mentors the girl child.

Participants received copies of the book “Turning Pain into Power” authored by Tinevimbo Matambanadzo, founder of the As I Am Foundation. The book is the story of her 10 year journey with a gynecological condition called endometriosis. “Endometriosis” occurs when tissue that lines the uterus grows onto other parts of the body. A woman experiences terrible period pains that disrupt normal activity, pelvic pain, back pain, infertility, leg pain, amongst other symptoms.

In the book, Matambanadzo shares how helping others allowed her to turn pain into power. She started As I am Foundation in 2014 to work with less privileged communities to become financially emancipated and empowered by making vocational skills available to them. The organization has also advocated against sexual violence and creates awareness around sexual reproductive health issues in Hopley. Budiriro, Mutimusakwa in Marondera,Caledonia, rural Mhondoro, Epworth, Zengeza, and currently women living on the streets.