ZIMBABWE, just like any African country is riddled with bad practices and attitudes which perpetuate the discrimination and infringement of women’s fundamental civil liberties.
By Moses Mugugunyeki
There are a number of women who are trying to transform the Zimbabwe society to be more sensitive to women’s economic and social rights and one such woman is Nyaradzo Mashayamombe.
Mashayamombe, who is affectionately known as Nyari says she started gender activism when she was in school.
“I am a gender activist for life. It all started when I was in school after I saw girls being abused by teachers and senior boys,” she said.
“I remember an incident where a teacher proposed love to me after he stashed a letter in my exercise book. I was in a dilemma at first, but I had the guts to report him to the authorities. There were also incidents when I would stand against abuse of fellow students.”
Mashayamombe said she had an unfortunate upbringing after her father died when she was in her mother’s womb. Her mother raised her and seven other siblings under difficult conditions.
“We were raised by our mother under difficult conditions at our rural home in Makara village in Shurugwi. We would walk long distances to the nearest school and come back later in the day to assist our mother with some domestic chores and in the fields,” she said.
“At one point I went to Kwekwe High School for my secondary education, but I was compelled to return home due to financial constraints,” she said.
Mashayamombe, who is the founder and executive director of Tag a Life International Trust (TaLI), an advocacy group for the rights of girls, said her poor background inspired her to further her education.
“My poor rural background pushed me to read more. I moved to Harare and did a course in Secretarial Studies. However, I wanted to be my own boss, so I enrolled for a marketing degree with IMM and later did Human Resource Management with IPMZ. At the moment, I am doing a degree in Development Studies and it suits my chosen career,” she said.
Besides gender activism, Mashayamombe is a musician.
“My mother introduced me into music. She was a member of the Methodist church choir and she would sing at home. I would join her and that is how I started singing.
“My peers also encouraged me into singing and likened me to Plaxedes Wenyika. I have two gospel albums, Nekusingaperi and Zvakasungwa and I did a duet with the late Cephas Mashakada,” she said.
She recently released a single Cry, a duet she did with the late Chiwoniso Maraire.
“The song, Cry, highlights on the social injustice for the rights of girls, especially sexual abuse. We know that close relatives are the major perpetrators of child sexual abuse and the song highlights that,” she said.
Mashayamombe is in the studio working on her forthcoming album.
“My next album reflects the real ‘Nyari’. I am African, my body and hairstyle reflects an African woman. The album will be pure African and carries 14 tracks. I am releasing it in October,” she said.
Mashayamombe said she would use her global platform to market her album.
“I will use global platforms to market my album and put Zimbabwe on the map.
She is a globally-recognised women’s issues leader with a special interest in the rights of girls, young women and youths.
Mashayamombe has won the Junior Chamber International Award twice in 2013 and 2014.
“As an advocacy group, we have made great strides in addressing the challenges faced by girls, but a lot needs to be done.
“We challenged Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana over the utterances he made about early child marriages and we are happy that the First Lady Grace Mugabe took heed of our calls and challenged him,” she said.
“There is also need to realign our laws with the new constitution. This will help protect the girl child. Protecting girls from abuse needs a holistic approach.
“We need to protect our children through the adoption of policies that safeguard them from abuse,” she said.