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In the heart of Zimbabwe lies Harare; capital of the nation. Known for its cultural exhibits, tourists attractions and vast wildlife, it has since been one of the most popular tourist attractions around the world. And in order to preserve Zimbabwe’s state like that, a group of women known as the ‘Akashinga’ are stepping up to the challenge of ridding any threats that may be of harm to their home country.

THE BRAVE ONES

Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa, in general, have been plagued with a poaching problem since the past few decades. While a current solution exists in the form of legal hunting – where its premise is giving landowners monetary incentive to conserve and protect ecosystems. However, a decrease in the area’s popularity has nullified the incentives that legal hunting had initially promised, prompting the Akashinga to take action.

Akashinga or “The Brave Ones”, is an all-female anti-poaching unit founded by former Australian special forces soldier Damien Mander in mid-2017. He was inspired to establish the foundation after witnessing first-hand how poaching had negatively impacted the elephants and rhinoceros populations.

AKASHINGA AND FEMALE EMPOWERMENT

Peering deeper into the rabbit hole, however, lies a less than pleasant sight. 26.3 percent of children are being raised by single mothers, as a result of diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis; with other factors such as out-of-wedlock birth and high divorce rates. 35 percent of women are physically or sexually abused by their intimate partners, with another 20 percent suffering from the same problem annually.

A group aimed at assisting disadvantaged women of the community – single mothers, widows, victims of sexual and physical abuse, orphans and abandoned wives, it has empowered women by giving them a lifeline in the form of autonomy and economic stability;  allowing them to not only provide for themselves but to also pursue other personal goals and interests such as pursuing an education, providing for their families, buying property, etc.

OUTLOOK AND EFFECTS ON THE COMMUNITY

Clearly, the existence of the Akashinga has brought about a tremendously positive change especially for the most vulnerable group of women in the community. With up to 72 percent of the Akashinga’s operating costs invested back to the community, not only has it proven itself to be a sustainable alternative, but also a revolution in permanent wildlife conservation by bolstering the region’s economic stability despite being traditionally perceived as a male-exclusive job.

Despite facing resistance from traditionalists in the nation, the overarching positive change provided by the Akashinga should not be overlooked. With a promising model of enabling women to acquire job stability, security and to do good for their community, the Akashinga can truly be regarded as role models in the field of female empowerment; setting an example for others to follow.

While we are not literally in harm’s way, the Akashinga community reminds us to embrace the role models with having in our own local society. Be a member of FESO Asia and get connected with other like-minded women – some of whom are role models in their own right.

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