Friday, November 28, 2014

African Woman of Note- Interview with Andrea Dondolo

Sister of Myself: Andrea Nomasebe-abe-Nguni Dondolo


 

Celebrating the special beings that I am privileged to meet on my earthly journey gives me immense pleasure. Andrea Dondolo mesmerized me with her power that emanates from a gentle warm soul, in a video clip for the One Billion Rising Campaign in 2013. She introduces the clip with the biggest boldest reverberating AMANDLA which galvanizes people across the globe to get up and get moving to end violence against women. Little did I know at the time that Andrea is someone I would actually e-meet and get to know. All I can say is up close with Andrea is like nothing I could have imagined and I anticipate that the day we physically meet will be even more magical. This sister of myself is truly an amazing human being whose compassion, rootedness in the earth and deep love for abanthu bethu blows me wide open. She is extremely modest in the interview I did with her so I have added pictures to try to do justice to the breadth and expanse of her heart and her talents. I love you sis Andrea! Ndiyabonga MaDondolo, Enguni, nak’sasa lingadinwa!

1-    Tell us who Andrea Dondolo is, and what her outlook on life is.

Andrea Nomasebe-abe-Nguni Dondolo is a daughter of the soil whose path in life was willed upon her before birth through her names. Andrea meaning leading woman, Nomasebe-abe-Nguni meaning one with lots of branches from the Nguni people, Dondolo meaning a water measuring stick that was used for testing river depth when Nguni people crossed rivers. My outlook on life is a very positive and optimistic one especially for Afrika and her children, while embracing global citizenship in mindset and approach.
 

2-    Please tell us about your organization and what inspired you to create it?

Our organization the Khayelitsha Arts, Culture & Heritage Council is a non- profit organization that was established in 2002. Its main purpose is that of being a cultural guardian and a catalyst of change using ideas, ideals and principles of performing arts as a tool for expression and advancement. Through the organization we engage in social, cultural and gender based awareness activism to facilitate cross cultural, cross generational and cross gender dialogue, inspiring change.   
 
 
 

3-    What are you hopes for the youth of Khayelitsha and for the youth of South Africa in general?

My greatest hope for Khayelitsha youth and South Africa in general is for a youth who have self understanding and whose words begin with “I” as I believe self reflection inspires consciousness that transcends all external barriers.



 

4-You have an amazing spiritual side to you, please share a bit about this, about your family and its origins also.

My spirituality runs as deep as the roots of the Acacia trees of Eastern Cape that I carved themselves into my being as a youngster sketching a map that always leads my soul home to EC to quench my soul’s thirst. My paternal grandmother used to sing us praises all the time and for the most ‘insignificant acts’ then I did not realize she was claiming my spirit to stay connected with my ancestors and aspire to communicate with the Divine Creator through the language of the Universe which promotes gratitude and a higher understanding of our purpose on earth. I love Impepho, crystals, candles and the sea.
Andrea of the Acacias
 
4-    If you had a message for young women today, what would it be?

Self love, self appreciation and self awareness are basic fundamental values. Give yourself love first and its abundance in you will spill over all that you touch.
sis Andrea draws even the little ones.

sis Andrea inspiring young women
 
Andrea has a long list of talents! She is a world renowned singer and actress, both stage and screen.


She is an activist working in the community.


Recently she was appreciated as a South Africa Country Ambassador By UNWomen.



 Currently Andrea is involved in the intense activities for the 16Days of activism to end Violence against women and to usher in peace into our communities by restoring Ubuntu bethu. She is an inspiration and motivation who is much loved by her community by all. Sis Andrea I celebrate you and as we continue this earthly journey please know that you have touched my life and I am comforted by the knowledge that YOU LIVE!
I love you! Bee

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Real Talk! Authentic African Woman: Conversation Between Sisters

Key: BM and JM

I have known Jackie Mgido for 17 years. She and I met when I moved from Glasgow Scotland in 1997 after I got married.  We hit it off the very first time we met which was at a welcome dinner she cooked for me at her home with her husband Khetani. We played, did hair, went dancing, and dreamed.  Jackie was so into make-up and good skin, she would do facials for me when she visited me in Baltimore or when I visited her in Washington DC. Her dream was to own her own business in the beauty industry. Jackie and I lost touch for many years. She moved to L.A and just earlier this year we found each other and while she is a make up artist in Hollywood…Jackie is also the esteemed founder and visionary of Vault Cosmetics!!!!
 
 

 
So we have been having lots of girl- talk and catching up on each other’s adventures. A couple of weeks ago we started talking about mainstream media and the idea that there is a certain way that Black women have to be in order to be authentic. So here is our back and forth in which we explore some issues from our own perspectives in order to add to the discourse on what being authentically African/Black means for the diverse population of Black sisters out there. So first I asked her to share about Vault, the dream!

 Vault Cosmetics is a makeup line that I developed for women. But Women of Color were my primary focus, based on personal experience of not finding products that worked for my skin. My main objective was to provide a product that catered for the concerns that I had been witnessing and society has not been addressing.  My dream is to educate women about makeup, understanding why they wear makeup and the benefits. Education just opens up doors for compassion and understanding because women can be very hard on one another, particularly as far as standards of beauty are concerned. This is so cliché but that saying, “ one can only understand what I have been through if you have lived through it” that saying is so true, how many times do we judge then call a girlfriend and say “ girl now I know.”
 



 
Dillish- Vault Lipstick Brand Ambassador

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On the issue of skin color? Jackie and I were talking excitedly about Vault’s new range of foundations for women of color. The issue of skin bleaching came up and we talked about the adverse side effects that this practice has on women. As a public health professional I shared with Jackie my concerns over the substances many women across Africa are applying to their skin and also the pills they ingest. The ingestion of pills to suppress melanin production is common among many African celebrities. This way of bleaching ensures a more even skin tone so that one doesn’t end up with the darker bleach resistant areas like the knuckles, and knees characterized by topical creams.


 Many women are shamed for bleaching particularly by the rather judgmental “Authentic African Brigade (I just coined a new term!! AFB),” who presume to know that women who bleach want to be white, as in they want to look like white women. The issue is not about looking like white women. The issue is the fact that light skinned women are viewed as more beautiful than dark skinned women. Doors open much easier for light skinned women.

Well my aunt (my mom's sister) was light skinned but she wanted to be even lighter so that she could look like a colored (mixed race) woman because in the early 80's in Zimbabwe, colored women were getting jobs as secretaries, qualified or not! And guess what? She did get that job, with her fair skin and red lipstick!



 The shaming has led to the pill ingestion, which causes liver damage and in the extreme can result in multi-organ failure. An article by Obiora N. Anekwe gives details about the health hazards of skin lightening products.  



But Jackie explained something to me that was an eye opener. Here she is:

 So when I started this brand I did not realize all the difficulties I was going to come across when it came to getting manufactures to make products for darker skinned women. At first I would ask for certain makeup testers and I would get really frustrated when they would send samples and I could clearly see they did not match or go with the climate in Africa. I built a great relationship with one of the manufacturers and he gave me the break down.  It was clear that everything came down to economics: women of color come in many shades, it takes for example two, three colors to make a foundation for a light skinned person and takes five or more colors to make one for a darker skinned person. He also informed me that Caucasians bought more, again everything to do with economics so companies will focus and create products where they will make a profit.
Jackie with client -Vault Studio Harare
So now interestingly enough, there is this big surge of interest in darker skin and every makeup company it trying to come out with dark colors. The problem!!!!? Africa is NOT a priority. Manufacturers (catering traditionally to the white mainstream) are taking what they have and just adjusting according to what they define as dark and going with that. No one is creating makeup for Africa they are making makeup for Black Americans and sending it to Africa. People are people, I agree but climate and other environmental factors influence the skin’s responses. For example, in hot dry climates the skin tends to produce more oil so a less oily foundation/eye- wear is needed.

Jackie at work-Vault Studio Harare
 

This is where Vault comes in. In educating all of us in this conversation this brings us into this whole bleaching phenomenon. If you think it is about race, think again. No, it’s not always about race, it’s about economics. As early as the 1800 both women and men bleached their skin to the point of killing themselves because lighter meant you lived the royal life darker meant you worked in the field. Guess what?? That has not changed a single bit. This also brings us to the other reason. Human beings want to be acknowledged, light is noticed first because as humans we where just built this way. We as humans associate white with everything clean and bright and black is associated with dirt and darkness. Even  young children do this! We can go on. Many dark skinned girls don’t have choices therefore they end up using stuff that is created for lighter skinned girls, people complement them and that is the end of that story. Very few will tell them how “off” it looks!

 I give a perfect example all the cute cloths used to be made for the skinny girls and they used to get all the attention. So when a big girl rocked the same outfit it looked ridiculous because it did not fit.  It is only now that a big girl can rock pants made for them and we love it and there is now a lot of pride in who they are. African pride is evident we just do not always have that right look -fit for a darker skin girl and therefore we wear the wrong look. Or do whatever we feel we have to do to get "that look"!

 Jackie and I differ in that while she is absolutely correct that dark is associated with all things negative and white with light and positive attributes, I refuse to accept that we are built this way. I believe that the narrative of whiteness as supreme, inherently good and superior has been, for centuries, pushed through colonization, slavery and other forms of subjugation such that it suppressed other narratives and became the dominant lens through which many of us view the world. Even now, the reason we are having this conversation is because we are being force fed a steady diet of images, stories, analyses and opinions from a white perspective. 

We went back and forth about the issues around self- esteem and perceptions of beauty, who sets the standard and we looked at the Media using the Viola Davis story in the New York Times. Jackie had this to say:
 
I do not believe that on the subject of Viola Davis that anyone was being racist and I think it has everything to do with what society thinks is beautiful or acceptable. This is why men bleach also. Case in point, Sami Sosa!
Image from LA Late News
My point exactly when we say society which society are we talking about?  We are talking about the main stream white society (who control mainstream media and images in the media), to who the rest of the world looks (or is forced to look) to set the standard on everything from governance structures to black women’s beauty! To talk about “Classic beauty” as a white woman discussing a Black woman is to say what? That she does not have lighter skin and facial features that approximate white facial features. She could not possibly have been talking about Classic Black beauty because…does it exist? And if it does who set that standard as classic?

But when Lupita Nyong’o came out and no one questioned her beauty. So how can we possibly say this is about race?

Image from US Magazine
But once again Lupita was labelled stunning by white mainstream media first. If they had rejected her kind of beauty, I can tell you that many other people of color would have done the same. In fact I listened in on conversations where black people questioned what everyone who called her beautiful was on about! They were not saying when is ugly but they couldn’t see why she was almost being fetishized by mainstream media, thereby setting another standard for black beauty and yet another potentially divisive issue. Remember when Alec Wek came onto the scene? Remember Oprah’s remarks in an interview?” "If you had been there when I was growing up, I would have thought of myself as beautiful," the presenter confessed. Why? Because the messaging around her, in the media, on TV, in social circles and even in families, was that people who looked like her were not beautiful.

 
With Viola Davis, I think it also has to do with all the same roles she has been played throughout the years. People have a hard time with change so they will always regress and compare to whatever they were comfortable with. I remember when I worked with Linda Blair from the movie the Exorcist. Twenty five years later people cannot see her in any other role. She has been struggling with this for years.

I don’t watch TV girl so you probably know more about this issue than I do.

 Jackie, I love that you explain how make-up is created and that you cannot just take a palate created for white skin, add some dye to it and voila! You have make up for brown skin. I also love that you are so compassionate in your approach to creating make up for African women, taking into consideration the fact that the foundation has to have less oil and that the color comes from carefully combining several shades to achieve the perfect foundations and lip colors. I feel loved by Vault!

Jackie at work in LA
 OK Jackie so let’s talk about the herrrr!
 
The Hairvolution! Hmmm! Personally I love for my hubby of 20 years to have variety and he loves it. So the notion that when I wear a long straight weave I am trying to be white and when I wear my big fro I am trying to be more African this to me is all ludicrous (LOL, BM is howling here!).  All I am trying to do is add spice to my life. As women we are blessed to have the ability to change when we want.  Kikiki !!!!This is why we so moody! Our multiple personalities want to come out.
JM


 

I totally agree about the hair! Personally I get BORED stupid with having the same hairstyle. In a year I can wear several looks, from short buzz cut, to ultra- long Rapunzel, then to an Afro when my hair grows back and so on. I think that we are of the generation of African women who grew up in Zimbabwe and hair was very much an accessory for our moms and aunts. My mom wore a variety of wigs and my favorite was the big curly Fro. I doubt very much that she had the luxury of time to “question her Africanness” because, well, she just was! I am a lot like that. I am what I am and I am most certainly NOT my herr! I just wish the “Authentic African Brigade” would not always sound so all knowing on these issues. Sometimes they come across like the religious fanatics determined to beat you over the head with their Bibles until you believe! If they are so at peace with their decisions to go natural or to avoid weaves then why are they so judgmental and self-righteous in that very off putting way? And I know many who after a few years of the natural are back with the creamy crack or whatever they call hair relaxers! Live and let live is what I say! Concentrate on freeing yourself from your holier than thou attitude and allow other women to walk their own journey their way! There are so many complex issues to do with identity, culture, caste, class and education that the simplistic discussions where people's views are so absolute can be quite dangerous and hurtful. Here let’s share some hair evolution pics!!


BM
As humans we also get bored and when we experience other cultures, we become curious and want to try new things. Long straight hair is fun, so is curly hair. It is all about the seasons. Do we want to emulate other cultures? Of course, but that does not mean we hate ourselves it just means we are bored and want something different.
JM
 

 




So the name VAULT, do tell!!

 OK! Let’s go back to how I came up with the name Vault. I had so much fear and what freaked me out the most was not being accepted by my African family- that my people would laugh at me if I failed. All I wanted was for Africa to say “this is one of our own”. So I named the line Vault because I was opening up to every emotion that I was fearful and anxious to share. East or West home is best. Don’t we all want to be accepted?

Absolutely, but not if that acceptance comes at the expense of my individuality, creativity and the right to express myself as I want. The problem with herd mentality is that to be accepted you have to cut off all those corners so you can fit into the round hole. Sometimes the herd just cannot handle difference because they feel it threatens the order of things. So in a sense that kind of acceptance is not authentic. In fact you are I are much the same aren’t we? We are hybrids of all the places we have lived and this is such a blessing. But the tough part is that we are perceived as belong neither here in the US nor there in Africa, despite any efforts to prove how “authentic” we are there or here! You know what I do know for sure now (ageing is such a fabulous gift!)?
BM

That the only AUTHENTIC reality is that I am a HUMAN BEING. Period. I am a mosaic of many different cultures/ philosophies/beliefs/truths and yet and still I am fully human. That is authentic to me. That and the booty! Ha ha ha ha ha!

 

The booty!!! I just find it so funny and it only goes to show you that trends are driven again by money. Whatever brings in the bank is what works. So now the booty is in because mainstream media says so. I think what happens is a Caucasian girl with a prominent booty happens to be popular at this moment and time and because it’s not a black girl in that body it just stands out and it looks great to the white guy- you mean white establishment- that is making all the decisions. Just pure ignorance.  I will give you a perfect example I get more complements from white men than black men and that is because I am an enigma to a white guy and to a black guy they see this all the time so the interest is not that great. It is just human nature. Humans are just confused sheep.
BM
 

 But our “confused sheepness” is costing us! It’s like we are all pawns on a global chessboard and we are being played by this white, capitalist, heteronormative patriarchal system. We feed it! The divisions are all ideas to keep us preoccupied with our differences, fighting each other along racial, gender, tribal and other lines. In the meantime the system gluts itself at our expense, sets the bar on what is beautiful, acceptable and what is not. We need to disengage from the mass manipulation, have compassion for one another (we are all broken somehow by this system) and embrace each other as human beings! That’s authentic right?

 
Right! I believe with all the things I am discovering and products I am developing, a lot of women are going to embark on a journey towards discovering WHO they are and have their personal aha moments. The more they discover why they wear makeup and liberate themselves from all the external and internal negative judgments, the more powerful they will become. Then I think talking to other women openly will bring us into our collective aha moment and power. VAULT!  That word has so much meaning. To me it means strength, mystery, richness, depth, courage, quality, bravery and taking a chance. Need I say more? This is our mission and vision!



No. You needn’t say anymore Jackie! It is a strong and beautiful vision and mission: to enhance the beauty of sisters so that they can become!

Thank you so much! Let’s do this again soon!!
People lets hear your views! Sign in and comment!!


 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Memory of my Dad, on His Birthday

Today would have been my papa's 71st  birthday. He died when I was 12. That is the year I turned

30. I wonder what life would have been like for us or who we would have become if he had lived.

This year I had the transformative opportunity to go back and meet the 12 year old girl who had to be

 abandoned and replaced by the 30 year old woman, who had not cried enough. This is why I am able

 to write about him.


My father was handsome fellow, tall,   caramel skinned and in possession of a killer smile.  He dressed in fine sports jackets and smoked cigars and Kingsgate cigarettes. He wore gold cufflinks and drank Gerac Stein and Don –Juan-old brown- sherry. His shiny ox-blood shoes made cliketty clak sounds on the kitchen tiles and he whistled ‘Coz I’m Black and still in Chains” by John Holt . He had the most beautiful hands I have ever seen. Large yet elegant, with fine long fingers that tapered. At each finger tip were perfectly manicured finger nails, cut short and blunt and very clean. I would watch mesmerized as he picked up a goblet of his favorite intoxicant and follow his hand as though my life depended on watching him take a quiet sip. He would turn the glass around as though trying to figure out how such a simple vessel could deliver such a wonderful elixir. He would then put it down with a contented sigh and settle himself comfortably into his leather arm chair. My father had come from very humble beginnings. So humble in fact that I often wondered why people use the term “humble beginnings” where there seem to be no beginnings at all. He sought to surround himself with all things fine. His appreciation for fine clothes, good wine expensive furniture and cars were the hallmark of his short existence. He also loved books and was passionate about education. He was always studying through some correspondence college- Rapid Results College, UNISA- or reading a novel. As a 6 year old not yet going to school, I would watch him sitting on the verandah the French doors thrown open while he blasted Richard John Smith’s ‘Tomorrow girl’ and ‘Jimmy Cliff’s Follow My mind.’ The obligatory goblet would be next to him on a small side table and he would nod his head and whistle to the melodies pulsating from the Sony stereo. I would silently pull up a garden chair next to him, not too close as to irritate him and get sent marching to the kitchen, a place I loathed with everything in me.  I would get a book, cross my legs at the knees and tap my foot in time to the music. What I felt at these rare moments was a fierce pride. I was proud of my father’s achievements. I was proud that he had moved from Sugarcane- Triangle to Sindebele-Luveve, bought a brand new Datsun 120Y sedan and finally moved us to Isikhiwa-Killarney, all in the space of 2 years!
Dad lived his life at a frenetic pace. He was driven, as though he knew that he had limited time and that he had to make provisions for his young widow and 4 young children. He worked hard and he saved and set up all sorts of insurance policies and funds that I had no understanding of at age 9.
This man was larger than life to me. He was God. Whenever we gathered to say night prayers and uttered the words ‘Dear God, a picture of my dad would appear in my mind as naturally as a rainbow appears in the sky after a summer rain shower. His death was a sudden blow that left me numb for many years. But I would thaw eventually albeit very slowly. Now I have the immense joy of seeing his delicate shadow in the twins' smiles, or hearing his voice in Chi-Chi's dry rejoinders and her incessant tuneless whistling, or take in his radiance in Kai's beautiful skin with its copper undertones. I can see him and experience memories of  him without the once before searing pain and anger that would bring tears to my eyes. One day I shall tell his story as a way to complete my own.
Happy birthday dad!
As I was about to post this blog my twins called me to see this spectacular rainbow over our house! What a gift!



 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Interview with Angela Peabody- Global Woman P.E.A.C.E Foundation


Introducing Angela Peabody
 

Angela Peabody- founder of Global Women P.E.A.C.E Foundation- has worked as a humanitarian for most of her adult life, supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Tigerlily Foundation and several other non-profit organizations. The Liberian Journalist and Novelist is an accomplished and award-winning writer. She is the first Liberian woman to write and publish a full length novel. Her career has taken her to the corners of the earth, as she speaks out against female genital mutilation and other gender based violent acts. A highly sought after public speaker, Angela has spoken at Harvard University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, The University of Pittsburgh, Catonsville Community College, Saint Simon’s Island Festival and Making Poverty History Conference in London, where she shared the stage with 2 members of the House of Parliament. Angela is the former Chair of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Writers Union and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and the Advisory Board of Tigerlily Foundation. Though Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation keeps Angela’s schedule very busy she continues her career as a Novelist. Her next novel, When the Games Froze was released in the December 2013.
Proceeds from the book are used to fund construction of Hope Academy in Liberia
 

Tell us about GWPF and how the organization came about.

 First, I want to thank you for this interview.  Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, 501c3 non-profit organization was established in 2012 on the principles of ending violence and injustices against women and girls.  In 2011, an organization called People Everywhere All Created Equal (P.E.A.C.E.) merged with Global Woman® to become Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation.
 

What is the focus of your work and how are you able to achieve your goals?

 The mission of our organization is to empower women and girls through education to help eradicate gender-based violence.  Although we advocate on behalf of women and girls primarily, we also believe in educating boys and men about ending violence and injustices against the female gender.  We believe that if we educate the future women and men from an early age, they will not practice violence against each other.
Hope Academy School under construction in Liberia (Halted by Ebola crisis)
 

What are your thoughts on how far we have come towards the goal of eradicating FGM in the world?

 I think that we have come a long way to ending FGM in the world but we are still a long way from it.  According to research studies, it will take only a generation to end FGM.  The conclusion was based on the fact that most of the people interviewed between the ages of 40 and 16, they feel that FGM should no longer be practiced.  It is the older generations between 50 and older that believe the practice should be continued.  This study confirms the belief of our organization; that by educating the young children about the dangers of FGM, the next generations will cease the practice of FGM.  We must continue to raise awareness, educate the public, educate children, write and circulate more literature, hold more workshops and focus groups until we see a vast improvement toward eradication.  I am glad that the United States government is now taking steps to engaging in the campaign against FGM.  The U.S. is still far behind countries such as the U.K., France, Germany and Sweden but I believe that they will get up to speed.
Angela (seated 2nd from left) at  UAE 2009 Women in Leadership Conference on FGM

What are some of the major challenges in your line of work?

 Prior to the last 2 years, it was difficult to find support of our FGM campaign because of the ignorance in the U.S. about FGM.  You cannot expect people to support something of which they know nothing.  We found ourselves explaining and defining what FGM is.  A couple of weeks ago, we participated in a women’s rally on the Washington Capitol.  We were shocked to see the number of people that came to our table to chat about FGM.  There was not one visitor to our table (with the exception of a 12-year old girl) that asked what FGM was.  Everyone knew or had heard of it, and they all wanted to support us; they all wanted to attend the walkathon.  They thanked us for working with FGM.  That is a huge improvement from 2005 when I first began my crusade against FGM.

 Then there are the challenges of the other aspects of our work; domestic violence, child and sexual abuse and trafficking.  While the American public is very familiar with this aspect of our work, it is still challenging and frustrating when we read about so much violence within the athletic arena or child rape or child marriage in other parts of the world.  You would think that within such a civilized society as the U.S., there should not exist a wide spread of domestic violence.  

Tell us about the Event on November 8 and what has led up to this event.

 I recall walking for many years in the Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure.  When I began my crusade against FGM, I dreamed about holding a walk against female genital mutilation.  I figured it would be a great way to help to raise awareness and educate the public on the practice.  I took the idea to our board of directors and they liked the idea.  Now, here we are holding the first 5K Walkathon (Walk to End FGM) in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, November 8, 2014.  It is hard to believe that it is only a little over a month that we will be walking together down Constitution Avenue to end FGM – a dream come true!  I wish we had the names of all of the girls who have died from FGM so we can call out their names that day and print their names in the program book.  Because this walkathon is for all of them, as well as all the survivors.

The proceeds from the walkathon will be used for the opening of a support center in the community.  The pilot support center will be located in the Washington, D.C. area.  However we plan to open centers in other communities in the U.S. and abroad with the success of the pilot.  Therefore this walkathon is not just about us walking; it is about changing lives.  

  
Thank you for all the amazing work you are doing sister Angela! For more information or to sign up for the walk visit: http://globalwomanpeacefoundation.org/
 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Young African Woman of Note: Glanis Changachirere- Zimbabwe

Glanis Changachirere Zimbabwe
 
 
 

I first met Glanis in Johannesburg as part of a group of young women leaders on a training program. Glanis struck me as very quite, though I was impressed by the depth to the questions she asked when she did speak. In the following months I was blown away by the work Glanis has done and continues to do for advancing the rights of young women.
Young women with Glanis

Young Women marching to end VAW


Below is a short documentary which details the work Glanis does. Just watch and be amazed!
Glanis is a feminist, activist as well as a public policy scholar. She is passionate about dealing with issues that affect young women using a rights-based approach. She therefore has a strident political voice echoing in her activism and the work she does. Glanis is not afraid to challenge injustices in her community, her country and the world. Despite a challenging political environment Glanis is a politically vocal young woman who speaks truth to power when it is necessary. Her love for marginalized  young rural women in Zimbabwe is uplifting and inspiring. The video is here .


Glanis at work!

Young rural women learning through dance

And theater/Drama

Glanis is the Founder of the Institute for Young Women Development, an organization that mobilizes and promotes the active political participation of young women in marginalized rural farming communities. Glanis believe that when young women understand their basic rights, they will be better prepared to fight for them. Her and her team facilitate young women's reclaiming of their political and social space so that they are bale to resist the patriarchal forces that seek to oppress them.
One thing that Glanis has achieved that is astounding is that she has managed to get traditional leaders in rural communities to support the work that IYWD does, by educating them to the benefits of educating and emancipating young women. She has also worked closely with them to fight violence against women and girls using the traditional court systems to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.
Traditional Chiefs present in support of IYWD mission

In 2013, Glanis hard work was recognized through the prestigious Democracy Award, from the National Endowment for Democracy, USA. Her riveting speech can be watched here.

Glanis is a charming and passionate young woman whose work is transformational. This is to celebrate you Glanis. Thank you for your service to young women, and thank you for sisterhood and authentic solidarity. We are watching you and rooting for you!