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Celebrating women in leadership

As the world celebrates women this month with many events that are lined up to celebrate women, I could not help but think of some of the most phenomenal women I know.

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The late Primrose Kurasha
The late Primrose Kurasha

My thoughts took me to the late, professor Primrose Kurasha, who was the vice-chancellor of the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). In her illustrious career she guided ZOU to become a university of choice locally and regionally.

During her tenure, ZOU saw over 28 000 graduates pass through its doors, armed with credible university qualifications. Kurasha was largely guided by the philosophy of inclusivity and took every opportunity to create and expand educational opportunities for all. It is with deep sorrow that she is no longer here to continue with her visionary leadership. It is my hope that her legacy will live on and that more women will continue to be inspired by her.

Nomathemba Ndiweni is also a phenomenal woman who is currently the pro-vice-chancellor of Lupane State University. Before then, she was the dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the National University of Sciences and Technology. She leads with humility and yet she has achieved so much. She is passionate about the girl child and it is her dream that every girl child be afforded the opportunity to have a decent education so that more and more women can be empowered.

At the recent Davos in Focus meeting at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in South Africa, I met Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita who is the JSE chairperson. Her clarity in speech and confidence as a person left me thinking that if she could do it, so could other women. On doing a little bit more research on her, I discovered that she was a top student in South Africa in her junior certificate and after attaining her senior certificate she was awarded an Anglo American Corporation scholarship with which she studied and qualified as an electrical engineer. She also holds a Master of Business Administration degree and in 2012, she was listed among 100 world’s most powerful women in the Forbes list. I was amazed at her credentials for a girl who was born in South Africa. If a fellow African woman can achieve such great strides, what can stop any other woman from achieving the same? I personally left that meeting fired up to achieve more and more, and to leave a legacy for my family and other women in Africa.

Another female luminary that comes to mind is Hope Sadza, who is also an inspiration to another great woman, Eve Gadzikwa. Sadza was instrumental in setting up a university in 2002 that had an 85% intake of women which has since grown in leaps and bounds. She has several accolades, but perhaps the one that I would like to bring out clearly is the fact that in 2009 she received a Fulbright Scholarship in the US, where she was one of the three selected from Africa. In case by stating this, I do not bring out the full perspective, Sadza was born in Mbare in Harare. Most of us reading this right now were born in better places in Zimbabwe and therefore if Sadza could do, we also can rise up the ladder and our names can also come up when we celebrate women in leadership and achievers. I mentioned Gadzikwa in passing, but she too flies the Zimbabwean women’s flag very high.

My article would obviously not be complete if I speak of celebrating women leaders and fail to celebrate my very own friend, Air Zimbabwe captain, Chipo Matimba. I often laugh at her experiences in the military academy where she trained as an Air Force pilot. You would never tell with her finesse that she went through the Air Force, which was largely for men at that time. She believes in continuous improvement and has worked hard in her career, achieving some great strides as she now flies the airbus. I for one can testify that Matimba flies the aircraft with ease and her landing is often exceptional. She places the aircraft smoothly on the ground. She also involves herself in youth mentorship programmes and also gives inspirational talks by sharing her journey. I am often amazed by her humility as well.

It is my hope that as we continue to celebrate women this month, this article will inspire a girl child somehow, somewhere. Like I have often said, there is room for women at the top.

Till next week, keep reading and remain brand savvy.

Stha Magida is contactable on stha4235@gmail.com. Please share your thoughts and opinions with her.

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