Zimbabwe scooped 13 out of the 34 awards at the regional gender awards, with second-placed Mauritius only managing six.
Nine countries participated.
South Africa won four, Madagascar three, Mozambique and Eswatini two each, with Botswana, Namibia, Seychelles and Malawi scooping one each.
Speaking during Regional Voice and Choice Summit Awards, Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said the awards were a great honour for the country.
“We are very proud as a nation and as the Ministry responsible for gender l am absolutely flabbergasted this is amazing and what is pleasing is that it is mainly young women, lets march on girls this is wonderful keep up the good work.
“To all the local authorities that have won that is where development and empowerment begins,” she said.
The prestigious awards were organised by Gender Links and Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance that also sought audience with President Mnangagwa in Victoria Falls last year resulting in him extending the women’s quota to the local government level.
Other dignitaries that attended the awards were Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo, High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa, Ambassador Christopher Cooter and Lesotho’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Chairperson of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, Matsepo Ramakoae.
Gender Links Zimbabwe country manager Ms Priscilla Maposa said these awards are fruits of a decade of gender mainstreaming work at the local level in Zimbabwe.
“It shows the realities of the growth of gendered work in Zimbabwe’s local government fraternity.
“The Ministry of Local Government and Public works has been pivotal in supporting gender work at the local level.
By allowing Gender Links to roll out the Centres of Excellence programme on gender mainstreaming in all the 92 local authorities in Zimbabwe, there’s improved gender responsive service delivery in councils. The ministry has also commended the programme as their “programme of choice” on gender mainstreaming.
Zimbabwe was the overall winner in five categories among them best rural council, most resourceful urban and rural councils, best reporter on Women Political Participation Reporting scooped by The Chronicle’s political editor Ndunduzo Tshuma.
“The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development being the parent Ministry for gender has been at the fore of advancing gender equality through multiple policy interventions for gender equality including establishment of the Women’s Bank,” she said.
Ms Maposa said what also stood out was evidence of how local authorities have taken ownership of the gender mainstreaming programme at institutional level.
“Evidence has shown that local authorities who take ownership of the programme are more likely to excel than those that do not.
“Sustained hard work by the local authorities and individuals who won at the summit is undoubted.
“Coupled with sustained capacity building through the various programme interventions offered by Gender Links,” she said.