I am Soneni Gwizi, a Zimbabwean born disabled woman. A Radio & TV Broadcaster, a Speaker, sister, friend, mentor, a global citizen and a Social media advocate who passionately loves life, love informing and educating our society on human rights matters. I am committed to this call because of my past life experiences. Growing up as a disabled little girl in an environment that was only made for ableist was a challenge and having little opportunities due to negative disability stereotypes. Now my dream is to see all disabled girls grow up in liberated spaces in order for them to dream bigger than being labeled disabled. I want their future to be equal to their ableist peers so that they grow to be women leaders.
I am currently a TV presenter, a Speaker, and a mentor. I ventured into TV Presenting for our national TV station. This is a phenomenal achievement. All over the world TV is dominated by non-disabled Presenters due to stereotypes. This norm has not stopped me from reaching my goals. “I have not allowed my disability or society to define me by my condition. I celebrate my life as an African with a disability”
I have been trained in Zimbabwe and South Africa in electronic media. My media work resolves around telling stories of people with disabilities.
I was a Producer/Presenter for our national English radio station. I produced and presented talk-show programmes such as Disability Issue a talk-show programme that focused on people with disabilities. I also Produced and Presented On The Move. I interviewed women who exceptionally excelled in their field of the profession for the same station. That was my radio journey in my early years in radio broadcasting.
Taking time out to be with my family and friends and drinking tea.
My passion is people and fighting for the rights of those who can not speak for themselves because of either they are not empowered or they do not have channels to express themselves. Life principles I stand by are; we love because we have been loved, we hurt because we were hurt and we forgive because we seek peace.
WHAT FUELS ME?
I have had to embrace my disability and confidently embrace every challenge that comes with it, knowingly well that this tiny body of mine is perfect as it is. I am a woman, I am unique, my body structure is different, my height is perfect even though I am short but I’m not less of a human being. Because of my uniqueness, I have had to work harder than others. This required lots of love and perseverance for me to have achieved what I have today. I have won media awards, I sit on different boards, I am a mentor and I am Face of Fability Africa, Zimbabwe & 2013 UNTWO Brand Ambassador Zimbabwe representing people. All this can be described in the words I chose UNIQUE LOVE PERSEVERANCE.
MY GREATEST INFLUENCE:
Women, nature, and Children are my greatest and most profound influences in my life. I come from a family that is dominated by women. I learn from children because of their honesty and attitude in dealing with different matters. Children ask a lot of questions and this opens up to learning and adapting to diversity. When I interview African Disabled women and listen to their stories of struggles and triumphs this influences me to be a better advocate, communicator, citizen & a loving sister.
MY TOP THREE ROLE MODELS:
- My late mom – Mrs Jane Moyo-Gwizi
- My Pastor – Pastor Marshall J. Williams -Founder of Life Spring Church Ministries Zimbabwe
- My late Medical Dr Rankin-Bone Specialist
The above souls have played a very fundamental role in my life and childhood formation, they planted positive seeds in me before the world knew who I was. They didn’t see a disabled child but instead, they saw a young girl who could become resourceful if she’s mentored and taught about life choices and they made me understand that I’m human enough to obtain an education and live a normal life regardless of the nature of my disability. Role models are individuals who believe in creating opportunities even if it’s against all odds. Being disabled is tough and it is rare to find role models that see through your disability who understands the disability culture. I was very fortunate and they remain my role models because of what they taught me and how they lived and live their lifestyles. Here is why they are my heartbeat: I learned that I must- #Preserve, have #Passion in what I do & #Love myself! These three words I use constantly to improve myself and the life of others as I engage with them.
IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS…..
I am surrounded by people who believe in my dreams and passion; these are my close family members, colleagues, and mentors who advise me on my career and social decisions matters. They constantly allow me to be me! I am a communicator. I would love to host my own TV talkshow with my name “In The Studio With Soneni”. As a Speaker i would love to Speak in different platforms; locally, Internationally and empower people on disability empowerment. I manage an online media plaform that empowers journalists on how to write Disability News on Twitter @OurVoices4 i would love it to grow into a resourceful space.
THE AFRICAN WOMAN’S CHALLENGE:
The Patriarchy system is a huge hindrance to African women’s development and empowerment. Women don’t get a chance to speak for themselves therefore their needs and voices are muted in policy and decision making. As a communicator I use different media spaces to push for human rights matters. Through information dissemination women are empowered.
WHAT I DO TO RELAX:
I love listening to good music, I read and I love my tea. Being a creative person makes me not stick to one thing. I love watching water flow, listening to the birds sing, being in the studio and talking to people! It all contributes to my relaxation.
MY – I.C.E. [INSPIRE|CELEBRATE|EMPOWER] VISION
I believe that the African Woman is already all that: Inpsired, Celebrated and empowered BUT what is missing is that her narratives are not documented properly. Little is being said about her achievements except that there’s poverty and shame around her yet she is a symbol of Courage, Hope, Love, a pillar of strength and a provider of good things to her family, community, village, country and nations. In Africa women contribute to the economy in many ways. We need to tell our stories as African women by this it will Inspire, celebrate and Empower others
MY AFRICAN UNION PLANS:
I would definitely advocate for: Education, Improved Service Delivery System & Employment. I consider these as my top priority choices because they resolve around human life. Women can never be liberated if they are not educated and if they do not have full access to proper health delivery system. Millions of women and children die very year across Africa due to poor health care. If a woman is educated she has the power to influence her surroundings for positive change in her community and village. I would make sure that women with disabilities needs are included and polices become disability inclusive. They are highly affected by lack of employment, poor infrastructure, poor health care and proper education facilities for the hearing and visually impaired. Every human being deserves the right to access to the above mentioned services and to live in safe spaces.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE:
My advice is simple: Women love yourselves first before anyone else says “love you” Selfcare is important! Believe in yourselves and dream bigger than your challenges and be your sister’s keeper. Don’t see race, disability, religion, age & a sister’s profession status…see a sister who needs a shoulder to lean on & continue bettering yourselves through education and aiming high in life. I am because you are!