Community women in the wards of Umguza have suffered silently and tolerated their rights violations, gender based violence and domestic violence for a long time. This has been as a result of lack of knowledge surrounding these issues as well as lack of safe spaces where women can freely discuss such problems with their peers and get advise that will transform their lives. Since resettlement, villagers in Umguza’s ward 11, like any other area in the district has also faced such challenges with women eventually failing to walk in the fullness of their potential due to living in fear of violence. This has however come to an end with the introduction of ‘Imithombo’ safe spaces for women
Emthonjeni Women’s Forum through the Women Promoting Constitutionalism Through Advocacy initiative created a force of women who able to claim and demand their rights as well as speak when they feel their rights have been violated. The training also had a section of capacity building of Action Groups as well as the rest of the women trained on advocacy in this section family laws that protect women’s rights were discussed at length. In addition the Action group were further capacitated during the Peer to Peer review session where they were taken through the formulation of ‘Imithombo’ and how to run them. The Action group members have taken the initiative seriously. ‘Imithombo’ meetings in the ward are conducted once a month by the Action group members, who identify a topic for discussion. During the meetings women have an opportunity to discuss all other related issues that directly affect them. Ward 11 women advocated for the construction of a clinic as the one in the ward is inaccessible, after every session community women take it upon them to work on the clinic sight.
Captured in the updates to the programmes officer, the action group members indicated that the ‘Imithombo’ sessions have been very helpful especially on domestic violence issues. Community women are now free to discuss issues that affect them and give each other advice during these sessions. The recent meeting conducted at Hlanganani on 26 April was attended by 60 women ranging from the ages 18-35 with Domestic Violence and the Domestic Violence Act being the issue of discussion
If continued and sustained the sessions will go a long way in creating platforms and safes spaces for information sharing amongst community members as well as sustaining the results of the project.