Gender and community development : examining women's participation in gender mainstreaming community development projects in Rushinga District, Zimbabwe.
Over many decades, there has been mounting global cohort on women empowerment and gender equality and noticeable theories, frameworks and approaches to gender and development are being developed. In response to gender disparity and women marginalisation, the global village has made strides in mainstreaming gender and promoting equality. This has been a success and some nations have achieved their goals whilst in other nations it is still on-going process. Every nation, including those in Africa, is empowering women, creating a democratic space for their participation and eliminating gender based violence, as such, therefore, there is a need to revisit or examine the response of women to these initiatives. Mainstreaming gender from grassroots levels leads to development of sustainable communities and emancipation of women. In women’s empowerment, the policies must involve the individual perspectives of every woman before addressing gender disparities at national or international levels. This is an indispensable requisite and women’s empowerment has to be from local level, (individual and family, community to national and global level). For such reasons, in this paper, I examined women’s response to gender mainstreaming, specifically their participation in community gardening projects in rural communities of Rushinga District, Zimbabwe. I investigated if more women were responding to the efforts development and government agencies in a positive manner. I also find out some of the barriers women encounter during participation or in response to gender mainstreaming. Some women, as a target populace in gender mainstreaming projects, are being excluded in empowerment strategies and initiatives due to a range of barriers while some women are fully emancipated and own the programs (Moser, 1993). Some of this study’s findings concluded that women response to gender mainstreaming efforts, their involvement, participation and commitment to community development projects designed for them are influenced by multiple factors ranging from, structural, environmental and individual. The structural factors comprise of social, economic and political issues that are limiting or enabling women to participate in gender mainstreaming community projects.
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