Restless Development was in Johannesburg last week, leading a Regional Consultation on Youth-Led Accountability powered by The United Nations Popular Fund and She Decides with 23 young leaders from East and Southern Africa who are experts in sexual reproductive health and rights campaigning and advocacy. Tatenda Maposa took part in the event.
My name is Tatenda Maposa. I’m a male feminist from Zimbabwe, working with the Girl Child Empowerment. I Live in Masvingo town on the southern part of Zimbabwe.
I am the middle child of a family of 3 children. When I started primary school I stayed with my aunt in Kwekwe. She was the family breadwinner but unfortunately passed away when I was still very young.
I was transferred to my rural home where I finished my primary education. I was fortunate that my father got a job at a small scale mine as a chief miner. We stayed in a compound where young girls and women were treated as second class citizens and a lot of gender based violence related issues took place.
I was able to continue my education and later completed my honours degree at Great Zimbabwe University. During my school days I felt that I should have done something to support young girls and women. In most parts of the society where I grew up women were treated as decision takers, it was more than patriarchy.
As a boy I had told myself that I will break this mainstream, and become a champion of a women’s rights. Female small scale miners endured inhospitable conditions in the cut throat dominated and fast expanding but dangerous gold panning industry. Young girls and women experienced a myriad of problems such as victimization, sexual harassment, lack of SRHR services and violent disposition of intruders on their work. As a young boy all these situations disheartened me but at the same time gave me courage to liberate young girls and women.
During my days at Great Zimbabwe University I registered a club with an aim to champion the rights of girls. The idea was adopted by other universities and we currenty have Girl Child Empowerment clubs in most universities in Zimbabwe. I later registered my idea as an official organization. Girl Child Empowerment of Zimbabwe emerged out of multiple personal experiences, collectively representing issues acknowledged around the world.
As a male feminist, I faced a lot of criticism but I believe in myself and so far we have helped more than 500 young girls and women through a number of campaigns such as “my pad campaign’, ‘my stationery campaign’ and “she is human too’.
As a feminist, I would have a lot of appreciation to UNFPA and Restless Development for giving me a chance to showcase what I have achieved this December 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The regional youth summit did not only developed my career but that of my country and my fellow youth, especially on the aspect of youth accountability and ensuring that there is youth participation and involvement in national processes.
Thank you UNFPA and Restless Development, you are the champions of women’s rights and youth participation.