360° Profiles of Strength and Resilience: Vimbai Kapurura

“Women are peacebuilders. We are peacemakers. We have a critical role to play in crisis situations and we are very much better placed to play a peacebuilding role in any country.”

Vimbai Kapurura is the Executive Director of Women Unlimited, a grassroots women’s rights organization working to promote the rights and leadership of women, girls, and marginalized groups in Eswatini and southern Africa. With support from the Rapid Response Window of the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF), she’s advocating to have more female voices in national peacebuilding spaces to ensure women’s rights and demands are included.

“We are the cradle of life. We are changemakers, movers, shakers of any area of development. We want to be engaged and involved in any area of the value chain, the complete value chain. We want to be there.”

In the face of the growing political turmoil in Eswatini, where calls for the establishment of a national dialogue remain seemingly unanswered, Vimbai and her organization are stepping up, raising their voice and bringing forward innovative solutions to promote peace and stability across the country. WPHF is supporting them to amplify women’s voices and mainstream gender perspectives into relevant decision-making mechanisms.

“WPHF has really helped us a lot. Not only has the funding allowed us to engage more women in peacebuilding processes, but it’s also supported us to underscore the need for female leadership in these spaces, where we’re often left aside.”

As part of its project with WPHF, Women Unlimited – with technical support from Cordaid, one of the INGO partners of the RRW – has trained several local women-led civil society organizations in conflict resolution, conflict prevention and mediation processes, as well as carried out educational and awareness raising campaigns on the value of women’s participation in peace processes, targeting both women and men across the country.

“If you gather many women toward on common goal, you are guaranteed that that goal is going to be achieved. Let us come together and be the change we want to see. No one will do it for us. But together, we can.”

In Eswatini, where women and girls face deep-rooted patriarchy from a very young age, undermining their confidence, autonomy and leadership, Vimbai has become an outspoken advocate for women’s equal representation in decision-making roles at all levels, from community-level and regional committees to national and global peacebuilding spaces.

“The fact that I’m here means that the work we are doing in Eswatini is being recognized. I’m really honored.” Vimbai Kapurura was one of the over 150 participants in the Global Women’s Forum 2023, organized by WPHF and the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) in Berlin, Germany, on 23-35 May 2023. Photo: Thomas Ecke

“Decisions are too many times made on our behalf, but there’s a need for us to have a seat at the table, with proper strategies and roadmaps as to what we feel women should actually do to change their lives and the narratives we currently have.”

A tireless leader and activist who’s influenced the lives of many women and girls in Eswatini, Vimbai is a firm believer in women’s capacity, tenacity, and adaptability to lead and drive transformative change in their communities. When she thinks about peace, she dreams about women coming together, taking up space, and walking side by side for a more peaceful and gender-equal world in which harmful stereotypes and cultural practices are left behind.

“No space is too big for us. No ladder is too high for us. What we need is the support and confidence to actually do what we want to do, the support to grow, the support to thrive in all socio-economic and political areas of development.”

With support from WPHF, Vimbai Kapurura is promoting women’s leadership and meaningful participation in Eswatini’s peacebuilding spaces. Photo: Thomas Ecke

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