A Peace Committee established in Mazowe ward 12 Hodobo village has proved to be instrumental in the development of the village. The committee initially set up to deal with different forms of violence against young women and girls among other committees facilitated by IYWD in Mashonaland Central Province has taken initiative to fill potholes and cut grass along a major road that connects people from across the country to Howard Hospital. This has led to the village head Mr Hodobo committing to be part of IYWD’s initiatives as it has brought not only development in his village but also grooming responsible, proactive young women who show leadership in the community. Speaking after the completion of filling potholes on close to 3 kilometre distance, a delighted Peace Committee representative Rebecca Muvavarirwa who recently gave birth and suffered in accessing the hospital due to the poor road network expressed satisfaction in the work done by the young women in fixing the road. “Our main road to Howard Hospital looked very bad and many motorists were avoiding using it, a situation that made it difficult for us to travel to and from the Hospital. As a peace committee during our monthly meeting we realised we could do something to show the council and the community that sometimes we need to look for solutions with what we have and took out to collect rubbles and sand to fill the potholes’’ remarked Rebecca.
Initially this action was viewed as a partisan action and the young women were sanctioned to stop. ‘Because we are just young women who want to develop our village and ourselves we stood our ground and continued with the work undisturbed, even knowing that those who were condemning this equally benefit from the development of the road. As a result other women from the community came to join and we achieved this together. We are even happier our village head vaHodobo ended up supporting us and commended IYWD for organising us and the knowledge they are imparting to us’.
Having seen and heard about such an applaudable development by the Hodobo Peace Committee other peace committees in the ward and other nearby wards have vowed not to only wait for issues of violence but also take the lead in being the change they want to see in their localities.
Speaking at the sidelines of the action by young women the local councillor for ward 12 Mr Muzhira encouraged the young women to assist the council in developing their locality while the council looks into what they can do to enhance service delivery in the community. He commended the young women for organising themselves at such a critical time and motivated for the inclusion of young women in decision making structures such as the ‘committee of 7’ that presides over developmental and policy issues at village level and also council structures.
The IYWD facilitated the creation of peace committees in some wards in districts in Mashonaland Central Province. The committees are community mechanisms to address violence against young women and girls and also seek to represent the voice of young women in the traditional judicial system. Upon their creation last year and early this year, Mashonaland Central was rated highest on violence with a gender violence rate recorded at 56%. The peace committees comprise of young women, traditional chiefs, health workers, religious leaders, and Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) police officers in some instances. The young women are always the majority to ensure the domination of their voice within the committees. With such developmental initiatives by Peace Committees IYWD acknowledges that peace does not only mean the absence of violence but also positive peace that includes various developmental actions and as such the committees are still fulfilling their mandate.