Women Leading The Way In Zimbabwe: Lucy Mbwana’s Story

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HALO Zimbabwe

“WOMEN can do it too. We are equally capable of executing duties that men can do. Don’t give up on opportunities that interest, or can develop you, out of fear. ”

Lucy Mbwana has been working for HALO for five years, joining as a deminer in 2016.

Determined to make the most of her opportunities, by 2017, Lucy had been promoted to Section Commander, responsible for a team of eight in the minefield. Today she is also a key part of the Community Outreach Team.

Lucy is from Nyamapanda in Mashonaland East so has grown up under the shadow of landmines, crossing the minefields to reach markets in Mozambique or to access grazing land for the family’s livestock. She is mum to six-year-old Makatendeka.

What were you doing before you began working for HALO?

Before working for HALO I had a small business selling snacks. I started this business when I dropped out of school after my father passed away and my mother could not pay for my school fees and that of my siblings. I had no idea what HALO was and had no hope of venturing into any other occupation.

Why did you first join HALO?

I joined the organisation as a means of looking for better opportunities. I was barely making ends meet, struggling to take care of my family and my daughter who was two years old at the time. Being employed by HALO was my breakthrough.

“It is important to have women in leadership positions as they encourage and inspire other woman to be leaders. Leadership has always been attributed to men, making it intimidating for women.”

What do men in your community think of women doing this work, clearing landmines and making Zimbabwe safe?

A lot of men in my community cannot believe that I am doing this job. In my community, risky jobs are for men, as they are considered to be the “brave” ones. Men fought in the war, therefore men should remove the landmines. It’s unfortunate, that some women have this same mentality. According to these men, I should be working “light” jobs such as taking care of the homestead and raising children.

How has working for HALO impacted your own life and that of your family?

HALO drastically changed my life and that of my family. Through my leadership position I have increased my interpersonal skills and I have gained confidence. I am able to speak clearly in front of people without experiencing social anxiety. I feel more capable and less intimidated by situations that would have intimidated me in the past.

Through the remuneration from HALO, I have managed to build a six roomed house—from living in a one roomed hut house. I am able to comfortably take care of my family, taking full custody of my late sister’s daughter who is in high school.

What would you say to young women in your community about their future and their capacity to become leaders?

Women can do it too. We are equally capable of executing duties that men can do. Don’t give up on opportunities that interest or can develop you out of fear. If I managed to do it coming from a humble background, you can do it too.

LUCY’S message to women at HALO:

“HALO offers equal promotional opportunities for both women and men. Keep working hard and you will achieve your career goals within the organisation.”

Reflections from Lucy

“Being a woman means that I am a creator. I can bring life into the world through motherhood and make it a better place by raising this life the right way.”

Are there other women that inspire you? Who and why?

One of the women that inspire me is Rumbidzai. Rumbidzai is one of the few female drivers here in HALO. When I started at HALO, I had no plans of ever being able to drive, yet alone own a vehicle. Rumbidzai made me realise that I was limiting myself, I obtained my driver’s license through her encouragement. I am now saving towards buying my car. Soon I will be able to drive my family to different recreational facilities in Zimbabwe.

What is the one global issue you would solve, if you could?

I would end hunger. I am passionate about child development, having a child of my own. I know food plays a pivotal role in child development and would therefore like to see every child well nourished.