By Hellen Venganai
The #14th sister I am celebrating in this women’s month is Virginia Muwanigwa
A veteran in the women’s movement who has invested over 20 years of her life passionately advocating for women’s rights.
Allow me to share a little about sis Virgie who has been a mentor, activist, and leader.
Looking at her profile, I can safely conclude that she has inborn leadership skills.
She was just destined to be a leader and woman of influence. Sis Virginia is the current Chief Executive Officer for the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC).
She has worked in various organisations including the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (Africa Regional Office), Intermediate Technology Development Group (now Practical Action), Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network, and ActionAid International Zimbabwe as the Women’s Rights Programme Coordinator.
She used to work with some of Zimbabwe’s trade unions to transform the workplace into a gender equal space for women and men.
She also has a media background and was once the Regional Coordinator and Head of the Editorial Department at Southern Africa Research and Documentation Centre in 2004.
Along the way, she also served as the Chairperson and board member of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Chairperson of Women and Land in Zimbabwe, and as Director of the Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre (HIFC).
While she was at HIFC, part of her key result areas was on capacity building for journalists and humanitarian NGOs.
Some of her successes at HIFC included co-implementing a three-year Women Journalists Mentoring Programme which facilitated the transfer of leadership and media skills to 45 young female journalists working with experienced mentors.
She has written several articles, edited many gender and human rights books and fundraised for many women organisations.
She once won an award for the Best Print News article in southern Africa, beating 186 other entries!
The article was about the then Domestic Violence Bill which the women’s movement was advocating for.
Sis Virgie has lobbying and advocacy experience at national and international levels including during the constitution making process.
Her first experience of lobbying was actually at an international level in 1997, when an International Trade Secretariat hired her for the Women’s Programme in their Africa Regional Office.
At the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, I am quite confident that she is one of the forces behind the Commission’s sexual harassment awareness campaigns at institutions of higher learning.
ZGC is also working on increasing the participation of women in the 2023 elections as part of its 2021 goals.
At the same time, the Commission is busy compiling a database for Women Professionals and Executives to facilitate the inclusion of more women into senior management positions in parastatals.
Sis Virgie, the CEO, says the database will offer appointing authorities a pool of qualified and experienced women for consideration.
Maybe one day I will wake up as a board member as a result of this important initiative .
So, sis Virgie, today I appreciate the work you have done and continue to do to amplify the voices of women while leading from the front.