Give Them Wings to Fly: Crossing the Line in Zambia

A dozen young women have converged on the Protea Hotel Cairo Road in Lusaka, as JASS (Just Associates) Southern Africa continues with the process of movement-building in Zambia. This part of the process is Leadership Training: Young Women Political Facilitators Workshop. The young women have been drawn from various civil society organizations, while also selected for their particular individual skills, potential, and obviously an enthusiasm for doing things differently in line with movement-building. The first two days have been amazing – with the young women, most of who were in the November 2009 Strategy Meeting in Lusaka, displaying a huge potential for becoming political facilitators. As articulated by one of the young women, this morning – their goal is to become bold, stylish, knowledgeable political facilitators.

The introductions at the beginning of the workshop were telling and had us in excited anticipation of the short three days we were to spend together. As the young women identified objects that reflected their characters within the room has had me looking at each object and each event in my day-to-day life in a completely new light. The objects signifying the different characters we a privileged to be with include a pillar (strong supporter that only a bulldozer can destroy), a phone (a vital tool for communication whose characteristics continue to improve each day), pen (writing to impart information), book (that can be written in, and that many can read and source vast amounts of knowledge from), light (brightening people’s lives through revealing knowledge), woman’s handbag (everyone has to have one, and has capacity to carry lots of stuff), scissors (cuts out the crap so as to deal with the core), juice (sweet, quenches thirst, and symbol of prestige), folder (capacity to hold a lot of contents with lots of information), and water (for nourishment, cleaning, strong and always finds its way round obstacles, to continue with its work downstream. A few could not find any object that they could compare their character with in the hotel meeting room, and this revealed how limiting that set up is for meetings of the kind of work we do in movement-building.

The exercises in the power flower and the personal SWOT analyses seemed to help the young women open up as these helped grounding in where they are located, and also a self-introspection that most confessed to never have engaged in. These two particular exercises have apparently got the young women to find their wings, and they have already started flying and crossing the line. The role plays three groups did, targeting traditional leaders, youths, and women aged 30 – 60 in a rural set-up, were a further learning point for the JASS team in understanding Zambian traditions and culture, and the representation of the diversity of contexts that young women work in.

It has been an important lesson for Southern Africa to keep the connections and conversations going, and therefore maintain the momentum, particularly in the early stages of introducing the movement-building concept in any country or community. There definitely is a lot to learn from each other for every woman participating in the workshop, and it will be an exciting prospect to see what plans the young women set for themselves as we conclude the workshop tomorrow. These young women are claiming and owning the wings to fly, and crossing the line in Zambia.