- CONGRATULATIONS FOR WINNING THE RUN AWARD! WHO IS SHARON?
Sharon Stella Musonza is a 24 year old who resides and works in Gweru, Midlands province but is originally from Chiweshe in Mashonaland Central province. Sharon is a gender activist(still learning to wear the feminist coat). I am a SDGs champion and youth advocate focusing on advancing SRHR, prevention of HIV/Aids, gender equality, active citizenship, social & economic justice, financial literacy and or entrepreneurship among others things for the youth, in particular young women. Sharon is affiliated with organisations such as Zimbabwe Youth Council, Zimbabwe Youth SDGs, Women Coalition of Zimbabwe (Midlands Chapter- Young Women’s forum). She is also a Southern African Diplomat representing youth in Zimbabwe with Embrace Her.
- JUST TAKE US THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY TO THE SRHR AWARD?
I started activism in primary school at the age of 10 (only then I didn’t have a name for it) when I started a debate club at school. I eventually became a Junior Parliamentarian/ Junior Member of Parliament in 2010 at the age of 15 and since then through college I was an active member of clubs that were spearheading activities to promote SRHR such as SAYWHAT and Young People’s Network on SRH and HIV& Aids, Zimbabwe. I’m an ambassador with Zimbabwe Youth Council and a peer educator for young women on SRHR, doing capacity building trainings, providing sexual education and referring them to available SRHR services providers. Lastly I take part in policy and programming on youth matters and SRHR advocacy for decent menstrual hygiene, youth friendly services and a stop to GBV.
3. TO WHAT EXTENT DID THE LOCKDOWN AFFECT YOUR SRHR ACTIVITIES?
The Covid 19 pandemic came with a new set of problems in addition to the ones we already and one can imagine how bad this affected so many things in peoples lives. I realised that the pandemic amplified Zimbabwe’s prolonged economic crisis and in turn affecting orphans , the hard to reach and vulnerable people. It also shifted the focus in health policy and programming from a variety of areas to COVID 19 leading to some kind of confusion in the health sector especially for Adolescent Girls and Young Women ( AGYW). Closure of the mainstream economy through the lockdown, combined with fewer sources of money especially for the socially deprived and underemployed resulted in compromising on necessities such as sanitary wear for women
4.WHAT TECHNOLOGIES HAVE YOU EMBRACED TO REACH OUT TO YOUTH IN GWERU AND BEYOND?
The Covid19 lockdown pandemic restricted movement and it became hard to physically meet the girls assisted through the programmes I take part in. The new normal was here to stay at home and doing things online on web based platforms to engage the youth became the only solution despite the annoying rises in the cost of data and Wi-Fi bundles. I hosted highly interactive webinars with peers to hear what they would say about the COVID 19 and its effect on SRHR .We are running a Pad up campaign with WCOZ-YWN where we are raising money and a Pads Bank to help vulnerable girls achieve menstrual hygiene. For a fact, period poverty and Gender Based Violence were heightened. So I started using my social media skills to push for a desirable impact that is needed. A good example is my newest project (Facebook page: She Awakens Movement) ,GBV online campaign which is programmed to engage AGYW to fight GBV that is unique to them and it’s a project being run by AGYW themselves under the theme #forusbyus.
The Digital world is a place of many opportunities, I have learnt to manipulate it to suit the needs of my programming even in instances that I work on a zero budget. WhatsApp a has proved to be the most effective in reaching youth nowadays.
6. WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING AND HOW ARE YOU GOING AROUND THEM?
The most important challenge to note is funding for the work that I’m doing. Funding is dwindling and most of the grants or resources available are only focusing on COVID19 innovations. As a result , I have to run some of the projects on a zero budget whilst putting continued effort to mobilize resources. e.g. the She Awakens Movement project . Secondly several youth are still misinformed or ignorant of their constitutional rights and we take time to educate, raise awareness and do capacity building in order to match their interest to desired level of competencies in their everyday lives.
7. RECENT SUCCESS STORIES
I was selected to be the Southern African Diplomat representative from Zimbabwe by Embrace Her and
I was also engaged by UNAIDS as a social media consultant for their online advocacy campaign for AGYW on HIV prevention.
My women empowerment and girls rights poem were nominated and selected for publication in October by World Pulse, a global feminist movement advancing Women’s rights.
Lastly I was nominated for the Adolescent Activism Awards/SRHR Award by SAT- SRHR Africa Trust an award for my activism which I eventually became the run up winner.
8. CLOSING REMARKS
From an early age, I believed that I’m a change maker. I have always thought if you wanted to see change, then you should do be the change yourself because you alone knows exactly know what you want done. I also believe that youth, in particular young women, should take part in all platforms where decisions are being made, our future lies in our hands and we should start preparing for it now, in all those places that matter. I believe in a development that leaves no one being, and that this is the time to act and that nothing without us is ever for us. I will leave my footprint on earth and so should everyone because ACT-ivism is not all about talking, every one of us can either talk, sing, perform, resource, provide ideas or even support those who are doing good for our communities.
STORY BY TENDAI ABISHA SAUTA 26-09-2020 ( 0772761139)