By Hellen Vengani
Beatrice Savadye is the #17th woman I am celebrating this month.
She is a human rights activists and founder and Director for Real Open Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS) an organization working to promote social and economic justice for young people in Zimbabwe.
Through this organisation, the young woman is doing amazing work in the communities.
But before I get to that… Bea uses to be mukorokoza (gold panner) at Kitsiyatota when she was around 10 or 11 years.
Later she became a street vendor after school and during school holidays so as to able to raise school fees. And this partly explains why she then established ROOTS so that she can support other young people.
ROOTS has been able to reach out thousands of young people with mentorship programs, leadership incubation, and sexual and reproductive health rights information (SRHR).
At one point she was president of Southern Africa Young Women’s Network on SRHR (SAYWNet).
Her advocacy work with parliamentarians led the government of Zimbabwe to suspend the 15% tax charged on raw materials for sanitary towels.
I have been privileged to do some consultancy work for ROOTS in Bindura and Mazowe and this is when I really came to appreciate what Bea and her team are doing on the ground especially in farming and mining communities.
Bea is also very passionate about fighting child marriages.
Through her organisation, she ran the Not Ripe for Marriage Campaign on Ending Child Marriages in Zimbabwe which contributed to the ban of child marriage through a ruling by the Constitutional Court since January 2016.
She has also provided livelihood support for young women including those living with HIV. She created a documentary film, “Girls Leading Change…a journey to ending Child Marriage in Zimbabwe,” as “a tool to raise awareness on the perils of child marriage and the ban on child marriage.”
The goal was to challenge communities to fight the practice and hold government officials accountable so they would address the root causes of child marriage such as the inconsistencies in the marriage laws, age of consent and the constitution which allow for paedophiles to prey on young girls.
Bea has also done advocacy work at the African Union Level.
Her advocacy drive must have been nurtured while she was young because during her high school days, Beatrice was once a Junior Councilor and Junior Parliamentarian for Bindura Constituency .
During covid-19 I will say Bea was on the frontline.
While some of us were afraid to even open our doors, Bea and ROOTS fundraised to buy food packs which they distributed to poor households and other vulnerable groups who had been negatively affected by the lockdown (e.g single mothers who were depending on vending; and the elderly who were left behind with a lot of grandchildren, and people living with disabilities, especially the visually impaired and depend on other people to assist.)
They were also running mobile clinics in rural areas in collaboration with Ministry of health and child care to ensure that in the midst of lockdowns people could still access health services.
Due to this magnificent work, the Health Times identified Bea to be among the Top 15 Outstanding Health Champions for 2020.
I can go on and on to write about many other things, but that would need a book. But I believe the little I have shared here will make you see why I am celebrating her.
Ooh by the way she is taking her advocacy work to Europe where she is also establishing Midzi.
She will tell us more about this.
Continue to make impact in communities Bea.
I salute all your efforts my sister.