Friday, 15 August 2014

FSN celebrates International Youth Day

As the world commemorates International Youth Day, Female Students Network (FSN) cherishes the strides made to ensure that young people of today become active participants of their destiny on the political, social and economic spheres of their communities.

Youths are the future leaders of tomorrow, but it’s sad however to note that their voices often go unheard.
For our country to move forward to a brighter future, youth voices need to be amplified, their concerns heard because they are the ones holding the country’s future.

Hearing out what the youths are saying is essential for designing specific interventions that address their unique vulnerabilities and enable them to realize their hopes and aspirations. Therefore there is need to create platforms where youth can participate and share knowledge and ideas on how they can be active citizens who can able to contribute effectively to their personal development and that of the country.

There is also need to increase the capacity of young women in decision making positions, starting from within families going up to national level so as to reinforce gender equality.

Most young people, particularly the most vulnerable, lack knowledge of how to participate in relevant networks. As we celebrate this day however, there is need to look at the challenges that the young people of today are still facing, unemployment being the major one so that they can be rectified.

The failure by governments across the globe, including Zimbabwe to guarantee the eradication of all challenges that result in young women not being afforded the same opportunities as young men dropping out of school is against human freedoms and we condemn such in the strongest sense.
FSN therefore urges the government and development partners to effectively engage young people in developing national planning strategies and policies so that they can be given an opportunity to actively participate in all national processes.

An increased commitment among young people, youth-led organizations and greater political will of decision makers at all levels are needed for meaningful youth participation in development policy planning.

Promoting awareness among young people and enabling their full engagement in mitigation centred initiatives can facilitate their experience and enable them to so assume ownership of their contribution to development.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

FSN Condems ZINASU/ZICOSU rivalry

Female Students Network (FSN) would like to express its displeasure in the continued rivalry between the two leading students’ movements in the country, Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (ZICOSU).

We have a strong belief that the rivalry which sometimes turns nasty is the root cause of why female students are shunning student leadership. FSN condemns in the strongest sense the polarisation of student movement along political parties as we believe that student’s movements are meant to impress the plight of students. We consider that the  plight of students is the same, hence there is no reason why the two organisations should be at each other’ s throats as opposed to forging a united front in improving the learning conditions for students.

The Network understands that the rivalry between ZINASU and ZICOSU is an extension of the polarisation of the political situation in Zimbabwe where some political parties are now using the student bodies to further their ambitions at the expense of the students’ plight.

As an organisation that advocates for equal participation between female and male students in institutional politics, FSN is greatly disturbed by these clashes as they hinder the Network’s cause. The Network has been receiving reports from female students who withdraw from contesting in SRC elections because of intimidation and fear of being caught up in the clashes between ZICOSU and ZINASU. These clashes do not provide a level ground for the maximum participation of female students.

Furthermore, FSN believes a united and focused student movement will deliver the much needed improvement of educational standards and student politics which we all aim to achieve.  When we call for unity we are not saying ZINASU and ZICOSU should merge, and form one union.  While this might be noble, they might have different founding ideologies and principles, but we also believe that a request for a united fight for the uplifting of student welfare is not asking for too much from the two bodies if their cause is real.

We believe that with a united spirit, the rivalry between the two bodies will be a thing of the past hence female students who are usually vulnerable in hostile environments will start actively participating in student leadership without fear of being fingered in the nasty fights between ZICOSU and ZINASU.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

MDGs and Post 2015 Development Agenda: Gender equality still a priority

As the sun rises, so does the lapsing of time. So is the time-frame of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are supposed to be achieved by 2015.

 In Zimbabwe, the dare which is the highest decision making body is still a preserve for the males. At national level, the equivalent of such is the cabinet and parliament. With such institutions still dominated by men the decisions made in most cases are biased towards males.

MDG number 3 aims to promote gender equity and to empower women by 2015. In Zimbabwe however, women are often being excluded in many decision making processes. Despite the fact that a number of many women organisations have been formed, women are still under represented in many aspects of leadership.

Women are largely involved productive work such as farming and gardening, in order to meet the fundamental needs of their families, but their efforts are not recognised as major contributions to the national development.

 Female Students Network (FSN) believes that women should be supported in all facets of life, including in politics as they can contribute more to the development of the country.  FSN feels that the first step in assessing the equal participation of women and men in political life is to focus on the issue of increasing the number of women in decision-making positions.

 The largely male dominated cabinet with only three women out of 26 means that women’s voices can hardly be heard.  There is also need to influence the change of parents’ mind-sets regarding education for both male and female children.

Parents need to accept that children are equal and they should be given equal opportunities in life because with no proper education, the girl child will be less likely to have a say socially and politically and to be able to support themselves.

Another MDG which is a cause of concern is goal number 5, which stipulates the improvement of maternal health as cases of maternal mortality remain high. Female students are also affected by this issue and the situation is worse for colleges located in rural areas.

According to a research done by the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, the country’s maternal mortality rate is 960 deaths per 100 000 live births. This is a clear indication of the country’s failure to meet MDG goal number 5.

 In Zimbabwe, most maternal deaths are caused by poverty, lack of education and shortage of primary health care centres especially in marginalized areas such as Binga. Cases of women giving birth on their way to the clinic have been recorded the worst affected.

The shortage of critical staff and poor remuneration are other challenges affecting the country’s quest to meet the MDGs.  Scrapping off user fees for pregnant women would be a good development in the country’s mission to meet MDGs because most women, especially in the rural areas end up giving birth at their homes, which is unsafe and prejudicial to their health.

Therefore, the aspect of gender equality and maternal health still remain a priority in the country and should be included in Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Female President for JM Nkomo Poly

Female Students Network celebrates the success of yet another female student who has managed to assume the position of Student Representative Council (SRC) president at Joshua Mqabuko Polytechnic College. 

Xolile Thwala was voted as president on the 13th of February this year. Xolile contested with 5 males in the primary election and made it to the final election with one male contender. She said she got encouragement from other female students who supported her and she also had confidence that she would win.

 “I felt a bit intimidated after the elections because the guy that I was contesting with wanted a rerun. Nevertheless, I am trying my best to keep focus. I am motivated by the support I am getting from my colleagues,” added Xolile.
The proud SRC President Xolile Thwala
FSN has been to JMN Poly several times, educating female students on the importance of participating in leadership.   The Network also encouraged female students to support each other during SRC elections because female have a tendency of supporting men instead of their female col- leagues. 

The recent surge of female students getting interested in student leader- ship and let alone making it to  top positions is a result  of recent leadership workshops by FSN. 

During these trainings and work- shops, the Network has been conscientising female students on the need for them to shape their destiny by taking up leadership positions.

After attending the workshops most female students feel inspired to join SRCs at their institutions.   The workshops have been a motivation to female students’ participation in their institutions’ SRCs. FSN views these successes as a great move towards the emancipation of females in the once male dominated areas.

Cyber-bullying must stop

A lot female students have been victims of cyber bullying. The advent of technology, though a good move, has been a total hell for some as they are constantly being bullied on these technological devices. But what exactly is cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is the use of information technology to harm or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner. There is a page by the name “Bulawayo Hot Babes” where Facebook pictures of girls are posted without their consent. The admin would then pose a question such as “how many cows can you pay for my lobola because I am very beautiful and I know it”. People would then start to comment, saying nasty, degrading statements that are inhumane and embarrassing.
The worst part of it is that they will be using your name and pictures without your consent. There are other “confession pages” such as such as NUST Confessions, UZ and MSU confessions where students are being openly humiliated by anonymous posts.
The post clearly state people’s names, their degree programme and which year they are in. they then write whatever degrading and embarrassing stuff they fell like writing” she said. Cyber bullying can have devastating consequences, suicide being of them. 
 Another common form of cyber bullying among teens is the sending of threats usually implying that physical violence will be used.
There are no statistics on cyber bullying in Zimbabwe because most cases go unreported. But in other countries like in the USA there are documented cases of teens committing suicide after particularly bad cyber-attacks .
In Zimbabwe it is illegal to send obscene and threatening messages using any form of communication. As Female Students Network, we condemn such behaviour and encourage all women, members or non-members of FSN to desist from embarrassing each other.

Friday, 7 March 2014

FSN denounces female students’ abuse

Female Student Network (FSN) has learnt with utter shock the rape of a student at a Vocational Training Centre in the Midlands province.

The 19 year old student was intoxicated and allegedly gang raped by fellow students at the Vocational Training on Sunday.

According to police reports it is alleged that three male students drugged her and them took turns to rape her until she fell unconscious.

She was later found on the soccer pitch naked and unconscious by college authorities and rushed to Gweru provincial hospital.

The Network condemns such inhumane acts against female students.  As an organisation which advocates for females rights it was really devastating news that this lady was robbed of her sexuality hence her right.

The Network also wishes to warn female students to be careful of taking spiked drinks as cases of such are on the increase.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Empower one woman, empower the whole nation
by Thando Gwinji (Solusi University)

Female Students Network can be seen from afar as just an organization doing a few programs to empower female students in tertiary institutions but from deep within they are doing more than that, they are actually reaching out to the whole world. This is a testimony from a female student by the name of Thando Gwinji from Solusi University in Bulawayo.

I first encountered FSN in 2011 when I was a 2nd year student doing Peace in Conflict Studies and at that time I was the president of the Peace Club and I attended FSN workshops so that I can further my leadership skills. Well I got more than that, through constantly attending these workshops I got exposure to a wider range of skills, I developed self-confidence, self-awareness and open-mindedness. Above all I got a platform to express myself and my passion in life through constantly interacting with the organization. Through the FSN blog I advanced my writing skills and created awareness on issues affecting me and other female students around Bulawayo. Opportunities then started to build up because my voice was being heard and because of the training that I had received I was bold enough to take them on. In a word or two I can say that I was empowered to be a bigger person than I was before.

The Pull Her Down (PHD) syndrome is a very common phenomenon amongst ladies who want to escalate to high positions, FSN however modelled the Push Her Up (PHU) very well. Being just a female student I got the chance to go and represent not just FSN but Zimbabwe and Africa at large at the Study of the United States Institute for Civic engagement (SUSI) through FSN. In this 2014 SUSI program, there were 20 participants representing the SADC region. Of the 5 weeks that I spent in America, 3 weeks were at the University of Nebraska where I was studying leadership, democracy, civic engagement, and human rights with top-notch professors and at the end of the training I was awarded with a certificate of recognition for outstanding academic achievement and leadership skills. Even before the completion of the course I was living the American dream, and so many doors seem to be opening up.
However, it is not what I achieved that is of essence, it is what I am going to do with what I achieved that matters. The least that I can do is give back to the society, though I don’t have much to give, I believe that the little the effort that I give goes a long way, I will begin by sharing the little knowledge that I have accumulated. I have grown to believe that information dissemination is the first step towards empowerment and anyone can do it. For every young lady out there know that you are also an agent of social change and powerful beyond measure. In my stay in America, I wasn’t only gaining knowledge but I was teaching Americans about Africa as well and I came to appreciate where I come from more. Looking at Africa from a different angle, I could see that we have a lot of potential but we also have a lack of will power and that will power begins with young people who strive to make a difference. Female Students Network is making a difference but it is up to us young ladies to embrace those efforts and be agents of social change.


It’s time to stand up for our rights

By  Yunah Bvumbe (Harare Polytechnic College)

Women have often been deluged with suggestions about ways to become more powerful in relation to men; however the differences in men’s and women’s access to use of power continually subvert the whole essence of gender equality.

Many of us seek friendship or colleagueship with members of the other sex often to find out that the equality supposed in these relationship is constantly challenged by learned sex role patterns of dominance and submission.
It is from this background that as a nation, we cannot continue to articulate about gender equality when men continue to dominate in society at our own peril.

Zimbabwe having been championed for being part of those nations that endorsed the SADC  Protocol on Gender and Development in 2008 which requires that ‘’states parties shall endeavour that by 2015, at least 50 percent of decision –making positions in the public and private sectors are held by women’’. The participation of women has not been very impressive and it raises alarm on whether Zimbabwe will be able to ensure 50-50 representation of men and women in politics.

In politics and economics when most people think  of a president ,prime minister ,chairman of the board ,they think of a man despite the fact that women can and do hold these positions.

And in the realm of expertise, female journalists, doctors lawyers are still trusted less than their male counterparts by many people and are not even acknowledged to exist by many others .

Perhaps only in the realm of power based on attractiveness, charisma and personal magnetism do women power images compete with male ones.

Besides the act that females are more intelligent than their male counterparts, their power is being misconstrued as men perceive women need affection and safety and nothing else.

Therefore the predicament of ambitious women is that they end up being lonely and bitter as the feeling of abandonment for their brave stance gains momentum.

In this male dominated society, women’s only effective source of influence is beauty and sex appeal as they are being used in advertising products naked to speed up sales.

But then one wonders, is this why women have been heralding for their emancipation only to be used as sexual objects?

This is the time to change our mindset and not betray those who have fought for us to be emancipated.