Hundreds benefit from First Lady’s empowerment project in Manicaland
Tendai Rupapa-Senior Reporter
If you empower a woman, you empower a nation.
True to this statement, First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, who has a passion for women empowerment, is not leaving anyone or any place behind when it comes to women empowerment.
Her vision is that empowered women are able to contribute to the economy of the family as well as socio-economic development of the country.
Empowerment, the First Lady is saying, cannot be fully achieved without the women’s full participation.
For this reason, the mother of the nation is working flat out ensuring that her empowerment projects through her Angel of Hope Foundation are taken to all the country’s provinces.
Yesterday, she took her life-changing training in detergents and petroleum jelly making programme to Manicaland Province where hundreds of women including chiefs wives, the disabled, former ladies of the night, youths, widows, the elderly among other vulnerable groups from all the districts in the province benefited.
They were given certificates of completion and starter-packs to kick-start their project courtesy of Amai Mnangagwa.
Those that have gone through the training in other provinces are ripping immense benefits with their projects already flourishing.
They are forever grateful to Amai Mnangagwa for her love and vision saying she is opening industries for women and creating employment.
In the olden days, women were treated as second-fiddle to men. They were seen as lesser and inadequate to perform certain functions in society but Amai Mnangagwa is changing the narrative.
The First Lady brought along officials from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development and the Women’s Bank to educate the community on how they can make a living through income-generating projects.
They also took the women through financial literacy and what they offered that benefited women.
She said women’s participation in economic development helps curb domestic violence fuelled by dependence on spousal support.
“Madzimai tine chipo chekurera mhuri even extended families, it is a blessing we have therefore we need to work hard and help our spouses to look after families. Let us not look back, let us not pull each other down. Have confidence in yourself,” she said.
The First Lady said empowering women is a critical component of achieving gender equality.
“We want women in leadership positions. Leadership does not start at the top, but down where we are. We want to see you in boardrooms remangwana where decisions are made. Let us not restrict ourselves to the kitchen only, the boardrooms are waiting for us madzimai even in the Parliament we want our voices to be heard. Everyone has the capacity to stand before people. I get so happy when I meet other women nekuti ndinenge ndasangana neverudzi rwangu rwechidzimai sharing ideas,” she said to applause.
Dr Mnangagwa implored the women to form groups and work together in their projects so that they produce detergents at a large scale.
She also advised them to go back to their communities and teach others.
This, she said, also brings unity amongst them.
Amai Mnangagwa also touched on financial discipline saying it was important when conducting a project.
The First Lady is on record describing using one’s hands as a weapon to fight poverty.
“Madzimai we say no to the oldest profession. Let us use our hands and leave prostitution that brings diseases and death. What you have learnt today, zvichengetedzei and be successful businesswomen. Utilise your notes for the best products. For continuation of this project, utilise Women’s bank and the ministry of women affairs. Get loans and carry forward. Project iyi ngaibuditse mamwe maprojects and invite me to see how far you would have gone. When you get loans from the bank, please use them wisely in doing your projects so that you would be able to pay them back and for others to benefit too. It is a revolving fund. Even when we become successful, let us remain submissive to our husbands and give them their rightful positions as heads of households. We say no to domestic violence. I urge you to strive for more economic empowerment, thereby liberating yourselves and empowering you to do more for yourselves, your family, community and the nation at large,” she said.
The First Lady said Angel of Hope Foundation was involved in many projects with the aim of improving livelihoods.
The graduation torched celebrations as participants toasted to the new lease of life while singing and dancing.
They praised Amai Mnangagwa saying she has gone a long way in empowering women and that there are lots of achievements to celebrate about the wonderful milestones she has achieved.
Representing the Chiefs wives, Mrs Tsitsi Chengeta, wife to chief Makumbe said: “Today we are grateful for what the First Lady has done for us. We have been taught to make detergents and petroleum jelly and as chiefs’ wives we will gather our community members back home and also impart the knowledge we acquired here.
“We will form groups and utilise the starter-packs we have been given by our mother. Amai has taught us that as women we can do it when given a chance. Amai’s love is unmatched and as her ambassadors, we are preaching the same gospel of love and unity in our communities.”
Mrs Makumbe said by empowering the woman, the First Lady had empowered the whole nation.
She said after training other women and youths in her community, she would invite the First Lady to see what they would have done.
“Amai, empowering a woman economically and through education like what you are doing through the partnership of Angel of Hope Foundation and the Zimbabwe Open University, often create effects that positively benefit communities and the nation in bigger and more endearing ways. Amai kana muchinge madzidzisa mudzimai, madzidzisa mhuri uye madzidzisa nyika yose yeZimbabwe,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the youth, Ms Siman’liso Marume said what the First Lady was doing countrywide empowering women, increases their sense of self-worth, their decision-making ability and their access to opportunities and resources.
She added that it increases their power and control over their own life, removing inhibitions that limit their progress.
“As youths, we want to thank Amai for the wonderful things she has done and continues to do for us. Now we are able to look after ourselves and our families without selling our bodies as some youths are involved in prostitution and drug abuse. Nhasi tinoti zvapera.
We are thankful for teaching us to make different types of detergents and petroleum jelly that we will start making because she has given us starter-packs. I want to start a business and invite her one day to see where this project would have taken me. The future lies in our hands as youths therefore we should be responsible and this is exactly what the First Lady is teaching us. From today we will run with the project you have taught us Amai. We are thankful for the knowledge which is power. As youth we say ‘rambai makadzvanya Amai, ndimi mune chimuti chewomen empowerment,” she said before bursting into the song, “Tawanirwa Nyasha.”
Another participant, Mrs Jane Moyo (62) said as female combatants, they were thankful that the First Lady had shown them the true meaning of love.
“This has never happened to us since we got our independence in 1980 having a First Lady who has people at heart. As female former freedom fighters, we salute her, she is our heroine,” she said.
Mrs Moyo is optimistic that with the knowledge acquired and a starter pack, she would make and sell detergents and be able to look after her family.
“Amai nhasi matipa nhaka yeupenyu. We now know the importance of using our own hands not spending time visiting neighbours gossiping. We want to thank Amai for uplifting us, you have empowered us. Our mother, Amai Mnangagwa, has been a real blessing in our lives,” she said.
Among the graduates was 73-year-old Mrs Elina Muyambo, who ran around with joy while singing and dancing in appreciation of the First Lady’s love and empowerment drive.
She left the gathering in stitches when she said she would give her cattle names like- detergents, caustic soda, bleach and sodium chloride so that people will know that she is learned.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Nokhuthula Matsikenyere paid tribute to the First Lady for her unwavering efforts to improve the welfare of the womenfolk.
She said her good works were so visible as they ranged from philanthropy, guidance, counselling and mentoring.
It was all smiles as the participants were also given hampers by the First Lady.
Even all those who attended the programme went home with some goodies from the mother of the nation.