I am currently the Founding Director at ShamwariYemwanasikana- which means Exclusive Friend of the Girl Child. I am also a member of the Anti-Domestic Violence Council in Zimbabwe -Education Academically, I hold a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources with Zimbabwe Open University, a Higher National Diploma in Information Technology with DEXPAC Academy Southern Africa, a National Diploma in Human Resources Management with Harare Polytechnic, a Certificate in Counselling,a certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation and a Certificate in Institute of Bankers of Zimbabwe (IOBZ). –
First Job My first job was with ZB Bank as a Signature Verification Clerk in the year 2002. –
Necessary Luxury None.
I like to live a modest life because I have a big heart of living off the luxuries that come my way for the benefit or greater good of others in needy circumstances. –
Your Passion I grew up with and am still driven by the passion to address the concerns of the girl child and protect her from all issues that have the potential to destroy her dreams hopes and full development. As such, the background of the community which I grew up in – the high-density suburb of Chitungwiza, where a marginal increase in cases involving violence against girls and women was what I came across daily, gave me the courage to become the game changer I am today. As a person who was raised in a benevolent family, that alone gave me the impetus to be selfless and put other girls and women before my own needs. Therefore through the various leadership positions that I then assumed at school as a Head girl at Nyadire Mission, Youth Secretary at church among other influential positions, I could not fold hands but take action.
WHAT FUELS ME?
First and foremost I am a volunteer and so is everyone at my workplace since the organization was founded in 2014 because I am one person who never gives up and does not seek rewards if I do anything good for the other person. I am also inquisitive and do not let go easily what I instinctively believe in. If my gut tells me that I should do such an act, I take the bull by its horns. My determination is propelled by my desire to see a change in the way women and girls are treated in my country, all over the continent and worldwide. I once faced similar circumstances of prejudice especially when I took over as the National Administrator at a local Non-Governmental Organization while having had previously worked in the banking sector. To most of the employees who had been there for a long time, I posed a threat to their spheres of influence but I had to develop thick skin and stand my ground in order to carry out my tasks expeditiously.
Humility– One of the key lessons that I learnt from my parents was that pride will have a fall. As such, I live my life in the most modest ways possible. I commute to and from work daily using public transport though I have a car at home so that I am at the same level with community that I serve. The reason why I live my life in an unsophisticated manner is that I value each and every person’s diversity and dignity. As a norm in my line of work, I constantly risk my life, spend my personal savings and even risking my health in order to see girls and women emancipated. In these circles I interact with all and sundry so that I get to grips with the actual issues affecting women and girls on the ground. I am sometimes left only with bus fare after realising the need to prioritise other girls’ and women’s issues before my own. Often I opt to have tea without milk, plain bread or wear the same hairstyle as long as other women and girls are at peace.
Love- I am a very passionate individual who has a big heart towards others in dire circumstances to the extent of sacrificing even my personal savings to cater for the welfare of girls. As a volunteer who does not get remuneration at my organisation just like the rest of my team, I love work that I carry out and what makes me happy is the fact that I will have managed to change the lives of those in need. Moreover, I am a married mother of two girls, to enable consistent support to the girls I serve, I sacrifice part of my household budget allocation that I would have been given by my husband in order to help needy and vulnerable girls. I have on numerous occasions sacrificed my lunch in the event of an urgent need for assistance for the girls. As for my time assisting these girls, I rarely arrive home in time for supper as I do not want to leave any vulnerable girls who visit my offices in a sorry state. My satisfaction comes from giving my time and resources to others before my own.
MY GREATEST INFLUENCE:
The people surrounding me mostly inspire me and in that case the girls themselves inspire me to be the best ‘‘big girl’’ I can be! I also get inspiration from my own mother and elder sister, these women have touched the lives of many in their own local communities such that I took after them to be a responsible woman who the girls can also look up to. I can also mention that my two daughters also inspire me to be a mother to any other girl who is need. My husband is also very influential in my life as he has always been my pillar of support and often exhorts me to keep going. My inspiration also comes from the good work that we do as an organization and from the outside community. However, not everyone in Zimbabwe is happy with my work. I face constant hostility from traditionalists and some church elders who view our work as a threat to their traditional norms, which include shunning modern medicines and discouraging girls from going to go to school. Girls from traditional communities have been disciplined or threatened for attending our community meetings.
MY TOP THREE ROLE MODELS:
My mum is my biggest role model, though she does not have a degree or any recognized higher educational qualifications, she taught me to be humble, considerate, hardworking, sincerity and above all that to love and to give as the greatest gift. She also taught me to be a prayer warrior. She made a difference to many local women in our society through her positive influence and a lot of them now believe that change is possible if you believe and it begins with you.
My sister has played a huge role in shaping my character and the importance of being an educated but humble woman. She is a qualified lawyer and social worker but has also used her experience and education to inspire many women in church where she is a pastor’s wife and takes a leading role. She made me realize that we are placed in people’s lives for a purpose and its never a coincidence. Lastly, I found a role model in
Betty Makoni the Founder of Girl Child Network whom I worked with for more than five years. She taught me that we can challenge the status quo if we believe in our inner strength and that women can be the change they want to see in the world using her own lived experiences. She made me realize the potential that I have deep inside me and indeed, I have managed to touch the lives of many using my personal experiences.
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS…
I envision a society where girls will become the drivers of change, men becoming protectors and not perpetrators, changing their mind-sets, attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls empowerment. I envision my leadership through Shamwariyemwanasikana and my position in the Anti-Domestic Violence Council uniting all girl centred organizations together, relevant government ministries, fraternal leaders and the community at large to join hands and put an end to child marriages, rape, sex trade and every girl will access quality education. I want all of them collectively to realize that investing in women is smart economics and investing in girls, catching them upstream is even smarter economics as rightfully said by Okonje-Iweala. I usually share this with my husband who is my friend, advisor and partner. I also share this with the team at work who support me constantly in strategizing to ensure that the goal becomes a reality because together we achieve more.
THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S CHALLENGE:
The challenges facing African women begin from the time when they are still girls. They are those who are victims and survivors of rape, child marriages and other forms of abuse, mostly vulnerable due to their biological makeup, lack opportunities to education or fair access to the justice system and do not own means of production such as land. As a remedy, I insist on all girls’ and women’s right to a safe life, an education, and health care among other crucial needs. Through my organisation, Shamwari Yemwanasikana (SYS) – Exclusive Friend of the Girl Child, I provide a refuge for disadvantaged girls and champion their rights. SYS sponsors community clubs with more than 350,000 girls. In the clubs, the girls are capacitated with leadership skills, career guidance, and confidence building. Club participants can take part in income-generating projects such as market gardening, basket weaving, and soap making so that they are economically emancipated too.
WHAT I DO TO RELAX:
I normally make it a point that I get 20minutes to myself every day after work to unwind and revisit the day`s events. It also gives me time to do a self-audit. I go on holiday at least once every year close to year-end as a way of relaxing, recapturing and to unwind. It gives me time to spend with my two girls and husband, as I am usually busy with work at community and National level.
MY – I.C.E. [INSPIRE|CELEBRATE|EMPOWER] VISION
For a long time women in Africa have been sidelined or marginalized in key developmental issues in every sphere of their lives. Therefore, I would like to commend on the efforts being done by the African governments in trying to promote the rights of women and girls on the continent. However, more interventions need to be put in place as far as achieving holistic gender equality and development. Since time immemorial, women in Africa have occupied a central space in the political, economic and social dimensions but their voices have been silenced or gagged in the name of patriarchy. Sadly women have submitted and normalized such practices that belittle them but it’s now time to be seen and be heard in amplifying our voices and galvanizing our actions for the betterment of our communities. Whatever an African woman touches turns into a gem, so why not give us a chance to be who we ought to be? Give us wings to fly and that platform to deliver as African women, we are stronger if we are recognized and fully participate.
MY AFRICAN UNION PLANS:
I would want to work addressing community development of women. Its really key because everything emanates from the grassroots, if women at grassroots level are empowered to speak out, be economically empowered, make a difference and become the change they want to see in the world then the world becomes a better place. Women at community level are the ones who are ever raising the notion of empowerment but their voices are hardly heard, I want to be their voice and address issues that create barriers to their empowerment so that information on key issues is disseminated to them at their level, have them participate in key decision making and come up with possible solutions to their challenges looking at agenda 2030 and the issue of achieving SDGs especially 4 and 5.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
The advice that I would love to give girls and women is to never give up and to remain focused on their dreams and aspirations. Bloom where you are planted be it in business, industry, education, medical field or any other sector. Challenges will always be a part of life and the road will never be smooth or easy, thus one needs to be able to take on any challenge that they may face head on. We have to be able to stand on our own but being able to stand with others in achieving a common goal is most desirable. It’s never too late to pursue that goal that you have always desired, rise up and take a stand. You’re special and wonderful in your own way!