There is no doubt that young people across Zimbabwe can play a critical role in, economic social, and politicaldevelopment at a national level. A close examination of Zimbabwe’s history will reveal that young peoplehave been active as agents of social change since the struggle for Independence. However, over time, youngpeople in Zimbabwe have become increasingly exploited as a vehicle for violence by diverse political actors regardless of race, party or ideology.
This is a preliminary report on a research project between the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), the Institute for Young Women’s Development (IYWD) and HIVOS. The aim behind the study was to examine young women’s reasons for participating or not in the 2018 elections in the context of a pre- and post, matched-sample design. The decision was made to use IYWD as a case study, using its members. This would allow not only an understanding of participation in elections, but also provide IYWD and HIVOS with a deeper understanding of the success that IYWD has had in motivating and mobilising its members.
This builds on previous research by RAU in the 2013 elections when it carried out a pre-post-election study with The Women’s Trust (TWT).1 This research showed that going women-to-women was highly successful in motivating women to register and vote in the 2013 elections, producing an increase in the number of women that stated that they had voted in 2013 elections (79%) as opposed to the 2013 Referendum (11%) and the 2008 first round (27%). It was also found that participating in the TWT workshop was for the majority (60%) an important reason for participating, belying the view that workshops do not have much effects, and, additionally, that “word of mouth” was also seen as important for a significant group (43%).
Drawing on the lives of youth living in precarious conditions, we analyse in this paperthe ways in which the youth in Zimbabwe respond to varied shocks that they face intheir everyday lives. We note that for many years the political and economic challengeshave eroded the capacities of many Zimbabweans, but the impact on the youth hasbeen discernibly high. Yet the youth have remarkably survived the tenacity of political,social and economic challenges. Many people have described this response asresilience. As such we seek to test this aspect of bouncing back in view of social,economic and political developments in Zimbabwe since 2000 and determine if this canbe an aspect of resilience or its just sheer luck. We want to know why this phenomenonis uniquely Zimbabwean? Why did the Zimbabwean youth fail to get to the tippingpoint? What can be learnt from this? We use meta-analysis and direct interviews of thekey informant and individual youth to test our hypotheses that Zimbabwean youthhave an outstanding way of responding to shocks and are able to re-bounce backwithout necessarily being recruited into forces of violence, crime or anarchy.