Women – the epitome of resilience Ms Judith Runesu at her vending stall

Tafadzwa Chibukwa, Features Reporter
Women are little celebrated people whose existence is constantly sacrificial.

They toil and make sacrifices for their families and communities with little recognition.

Ms Runesu

They do not do it for the “thank yous” they will get but they do it because they are nurturing human beings overflowing with love.

They fend for their families even under the grimmest circumstances and even in old age, when they ought to be resting, most still find themselves continuing to do odd jobs and unpaid work in order to take care of their children, grandchildren and other family members.

Ms Judith Runesu (49) from Mzilikazi suburb is one such woman who is an epitome of strength, particularly in Zimbabwe where the country suffers unique economic challenges.

Popularly known as Mai Tafara in her neighbourhood, she is an ordinary woman who strives to put food on the table for her children every day.

Ms Runesu has been a vendor for over 10 years.

She said growing up in the rural areas, living with her grandmother, things were never easy for her. However, this did not demotivate her; rather it taught her to be resilient and endure all situations.

“Growing up, I never had it easy. The situation I was in forced me to learn to cook, to clean and do all other chores at a very tender age. As young as 10, I would be washing clothes and cooking with my siblings.

“But when I look back at my childhood today, I feel like what I experienced toughened me into being a model mother. Now I am making ends meet and providing for my children with the little that I have,” said Ms Runesu.

Ms Runesu has been a vendor for over 10 years.

She said since she came to Bulawayo in her mid-20s, she has known no other profession besides vending.

“When I came to Bulawayo in 2001, I enrolled at Foundation College where I studied Cutting and Designing for two years. After that, I enrolled at a local college to study Fashion and Fabrics. During that same period, it was when clothing bales were gaining popularity in the informal sector, posing competition for fabric manufacturers. I tried buying fabric and sewing a few items for resale but it all seemed futile since people now preferred bales which were cheap,” said Ms Runesu.

She continued: “That is when I started vending. At that time, there was not much competition on the streets so the business was profitable. In a day I could get profits as much as a formal worker’s weekly wage, hence I decided I would settle for this business.”

Ms Runesu sells vegetables, cigarettes, sweets, corn snacks and many other goodies, all perfectly organised on a stall erected in her yard.

“I sell my things from my doorstep because I have gained much popularity and trust from my customers in the suburb so eventually they come to me. I do not need to go into town to sell my products,” said Ms Runesu.

While most people underestimate vending, Ms Runesu said it is as demanding as any other job.

Ms Judith Runesu (49) from Mzilikazi suburb is one such woman who is an epitome of strength, particularly in Zimbabwe where the country suffers unique economic challenges.

She wakes up as early as 5AM everyday to purchase stock in bulk at wholesale prices in the city centre.

There is no transport to get her to the city centre that early in the morning so she is forced to cut across the notorious

Makokoba suburb on foot, risking her life and theft of the money she will be carrying.

Ms Runesu has gained popularity in the suburb for her mouth-watering “kotas,” a fast meal that is loved by many in Mzilikazi suburb.

She is said to serve the best and the cleanest “kotas” in the suburb.

Ms Runesu said she prefers working from home as compared to working in the city centre.

“I started off operating from the city centre where there was a lot of commotion due to the increased number of vendors all competing for the same customers. This made me want to try out operating from my home. The experiment was a success and the business is doing well. I feel like I am much safer from running away from council police and I also do not have any competition hence there can possibly be no complaints of the job here at home,” she said.

Although vending has always been looked down upon and criticised, Ms Runesu said it has proven to be a wholesome “hustle”.

She has managed to raise her children from the proceeds she gets from her business, paying their school fees, clothing them as well as putting food on the table.

Ms Runesu is one of the many women we celebrate during Women’s Month each March, year in, year out.

Marked on March 8 every year, International Women’s Day, this year ran under the theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”.

This theme is aligned with the priority theme for the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-67), “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.

United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Observance of IWD recognises and celebrates women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.

Research shows that bringing women and other marginalised groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality.

A gender-responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education can increase the awareness of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement.

Advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges, and to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. -@Sagepapie14

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