Caroline Hlatywayo, the Program and Information Officer at Jekesa Pfungwa Vulingqondo (JPV), took some time to answer some questions we had on Universal Access to Information and Sustainable Development Goals. Below is the interview we had with her:

  1. How can public access to information support the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Gender Equality in Southern Africa?

Caroline: Investing in the SDGs, also means investing in information- information that should be available to everyone regardless of geographical location, regardless of gender. Gender barriers need to be broken to break information barriers. Women should not be categorised according to geography. The same information that my sisters in the urban areas access should also be easily accessible to my sisters in the rural areas- that is empowerment through gender equality in Southern Africa! An informed nation equals a nation where people can freely claim and exercise their rights!!

2. What role should duty-bearers play to protect and promote the right to access to information, and media/ICT development?

Caroline: It is the role of duty- bearers to know and practise the rights to access to information, and media/ICT development. To promote this, duty bearers should make extensive use of media & make available all public information. Where protection is concerned, duty-bearers should lead by example & treat access to information as a human right. Access to information by the community means that they can also make informed decisions about their lives including holding their duty-bearers accountable. A democratic duty bearer makes this information accessible.

3. How can local rights-holders be encouraged to optimise and ‘own’ information about and for SDGs?

Caroline: Local rights holders constantly need to be conscientized about ownership of SDGs. Prior to that though, they need to understand what SDGs are. The same way we raise awareness about human rights is the same way we need to raise awareness on SDGs. Once local rights holders understand that the SDGs were designed to improve their lives, ownership becomes an integral about.

Caroline Hlatywayo is the Program and Information Officer at Jekesa Pfungwa Vulingqondo (JPV) which is a non-governmental organisation that works for the social and economic empowerment of rural women.  JPV envisions communities that are empowered, sustainable and peaceful & has successfully invested in women through training, imparting skills and information after having realized the need to harness this knowledge in order to promote self-reliance and effectively contribute to improved standards of living in communities at household level. In this respect, since the 1980s the organization has been implementing economic empowerment programs in 36 districts rural areas of Zimbabwe. These include, technical skills training in mushroom production, wire making, dishwasher and floor polish production, soap making, sewing. This has helped to stimulate entrepreneurship development, reduce unemployment rate at the same time assisting women to earn income to sustain their families. In all these programmes, information dissemination is integral as it relates to relevant social issues affecting women at grassroots level. JPV has successfully trained its membership to be actively engaged and participative in democratic spaces. JPV has bred local female leaders, successfully weaned off its membership and has formed Community Based Organisations in some of its districts. JPV takes pride in participating in national processes such as the constitution making, national peace building processes and being advocates for policies that affect women and girls directly.