Netsai Mushonga is a visionary, mover and shaker and who believe in gender
equality and global economic justice. I work as a development and peacebuilding
consultant and a Commissioner with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). I
am a rural child and my background shaped me into who I am now. I am making my
own life path and do not have to follow and be like every other woman, in-fact
I hate being ordinary. I also present as a surprise package, appearing as a
humble everyday woman but with willpower of steel! I love to push boundaries,
be innovative, do what has not been done before. I also believe God out there
is very proud of me and shines through my work.

WHAT FUELS ME?
Early on in life I developed purpose and decided that I was not going to leave the rural life
with its drudgery of house and field work. I stuck to my studies with sheer tenacity and determination until I
finished university studies. Three of my age mates got married at 14,15 and 16
years and I was the only one to finish A level and proceed to university among
my village age mates.
I have passion for
the work that I do and I don’t let go of an issue until I have achieved a
breakthrough. I strengthened the women’s civil society movement in Zimbabwe to
become a force to recon with and advocated for changes in laws and policies. I
also coordinated women of Zimbabwe to take an active part in writing the national
constitution of Zimbabwe.
In all my work I push for a standard of excellence for myself and my colleagues. I believe in achieving the
best and have told myself that I deserve excellency in return. I believe God
bestowed wisdom on me to change the world for the better for women and other
under privileged groups. I speak the truth and has never let fear stop me from
achieving what I want, my pastors will testify to this!!!!
MY GREATEST INFLUENCE:
Obviously my mother, Felistas Mushonga had the greatest and most
profound influence on me. She coached me in Mathematics and English every
evening during primary school. When my teachers scolded the boys for getting
lower marks than me and forgot to congratulate me, my mother told me how stupid
the teachers were, congratulated me herself and encouraged me to keep beating
everyone in my class! This encouragement was priceless and it made me
comfortable being different and breaking barriers. I never accept things as
they are, and always ask why things are what they are. I usually do not stop until
I get an answer.
MY TOP THREE ROLE
MODELS:
Winnie Mandela, she led a whole struggle for the end of
apartheid in South Africa and kept Mandela’s memory alive. She is a very powerful
woman and a trail blazer, who survived harassment by the South African
apartheid regime, only to be sidelined by the African National Congress at
independence. But she kept her head high and has remained active in South
African politics. I named my second daughter after Winnie Mandela.
Graca Machel of Mozambique and South Africa. I like how she
became first lady in two countries!!!! and has transcended boundaries usually
set for African women. Graca is a vocal, passionate and very powerful women in
her own right. She is makes waves on the continent and leading transformation
in women, peace and security.
My aunt Tarukumbira Kaseke is also my other role model. She raised
a very big family through sheer hard work and determination. She used to be
beaten by her husband, but she learnt to fight back, overpowered him and
regained her sweet freedom and boy she really enjoyed it! She walked with
purpose in her step and always declared that everything was possible.
IN THE NEXT FIVE
YEARS…..
Yes I have two loyal friends I share my goals with. We meet at
least once every month, laugh, cry and discuss serious issues. As a
Commissioner I would like to contribute to the current transformation of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in line with the new 2013 constitution of
Zimbabwe and promote a gender sensitive and inclusive democracy. Women should
participate equally in the management and all levels of the electoral processes
in Zimbabwe. I also want to get my doctorate in the next five years.

THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S CHALLENGE:
African women do not participate equally in peacebuilding,
conflict resolution and governance processes in line with UN Security Council Resolution
(SCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. I have  contributed by facilitating gender and
peacebuilding training since 2000 as a consultant. I also gave training to
national peace, human rights and security institutions as senior manager with
the Centre for Conflict Resolution. I have run workshops and supported women’s
participation in peacebuilding and conflict resolution in Zimbabwe, SADC
region, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Ghana and Liberia.
Another challenge for women are small and divided women’s movements.
I have contributed by building the women’s civil society movement under the
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe from 24 to 73 women’s NGOs in 5 years. I also
reached out to form synergies with female policy makers, women in political
parties, rural women and church women. The women’s movement became
indispensable during the constitution making process.
Right now I have just been sworn in as a Commissioner in the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. I plan to promote the equal participation of
women in election management and in the electoral cycle at all levels. I am
also excited to be a part of the transformation of ZEC in line with the new
2013 national constitution.
WHAT
I DO TO RELAX:
By walking 4kms in the morning and in the afternoon. I also
relax by making a traditional meal all by myself. Nothing beats working with
your hands for relaxing. My favourite meal is the road runner (organic free
range chicken), pumpkin and rice with peanut butter! I also enjoy vising friends
and relatives unannounced, the traditional African way.
MY   –  
I.C.E. [INSPIRE|CELEBRATE|EMPOWER] VISION
Because the African woman is powerful, intelligent, beautiful,
innovative and we are survivors.  The
media both national and foreign have in most cases portrayed African women
negatively. The general perception created in the media is that the African
women is generally poor, suffering, grief stricken and backward, yet we have so
many stories of progress, development and transformation that never receive
attention. It’s time to share the stories of the many successful African women,
we need a new narrative for this our continent! It’s time for African women to
be proud of what we have achieved which is a lot, there are many groundbreaking
development happening here!
MY
AFRICAN UNION PLANS:
I would want to be the special envoy for gender equality and
peacebuilding!  I would take on roles to
promote gender budgeting, economic empowerment of women and their equal
participation in governance, conflict resolution and peacebuilding. I would
want states to put more resources in sectors that promote the socio-economic
rights of women such as education, health, employment and agriculture. I would
also want states to start specific economic empowerment programmes for women of
all ages. It is critical that women participate in governance from the
household, the community, the national and international levels. It is
important that women have a say in the governance and decision making
processes. Thirdly I would want women to take an equal roles in conflict
resolution and peacebuilding. Such inclusive participation will build a more
sustainable peace on the continent.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
 “The sky is not the limit we have footprints
on the moon”, aim higher my daughters and sisters. Break the barriers, do the
unthinkable.
Let’s stick together, work together
and appreciate one another as women. Nothing beats an unsolicited smile of love
and appreciation from another woman. Every day of your life make a difference
in the life of one woman, a lift, a smile, a dollar will make a huge
difference.
Grow a healthy love for money and
property and make sure these are registered jointly or in your name. That way
you can stand for yourself since receiving and begging is never going to make
you proud.
Continue your studies, until you are a
professor, nothing beats education.