Sally Dura’s name is not new to activism in Zimbabwe. And now, with her experience of over a decade in women’s organising, she takes over as National Coordinator of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WcoZ).
Dura welcomed the appointment, giving gratitude to the entire coalition’s membership and National Coordinating Committee for entrusting her with the responsibility.
“It is indeed a challenge to be bestowed with a role where you are now the duty bearer responsible for connecting the gains and challenges experienced by women in the pre- colonial, colonial, pre-independence and post-independence eras in Zimbabwe; to ensure that progress continues and victories are not lost,” admitted Dura, while also stating that she was ready for the task ahead.
Virginia Muwanigwa, Board Chairperson of WcoZ, expressed confidence in Dura’s assuming the position and described her as one of the most dedicated and hardworking individuals working towards the emancipation of women in the country.
“Sally is an activist at heart,” said Muwanigwa. “She was actually one of the youngest members sitting on the WIPSU [Women in Politics Support Unit] board, and she showed great potential in advancing women’s causes. We are hopeful that she will implement what we have always shared as women’s rights activists.
For Moira Ngaru, WIPSU Board Chairperson, Dura is a worthy recipient of the job as she has gone through several mentorship processes with different organisations and individuals which will stand her in good stead in executing her duties.
“I have seen Sally’s passion and energy grow in the right direction and I believe this appointment comes at the right time for her,” commented Ngaru.
Dura expressed readiness to take on the new task with focus and determination. Mentioning the fact that as the African Union had dedicated 2015 to the rights of women and that Zimbabwe had assumed the African body’s chairmanship, she noted that it would naturally be a part of her responsibility to ensure that the country leads other nations in advancing women’ rights.
“I am very fortunate to take on this role just before the review of the 1995 Beijing Declaration takes place in March this year because the outcomes will guide my work on strengths to keep and weaknesses to abandon as we progress with work in the women’s movement,” she added.
By 2005, aged 23, Dura had already started her journey towards championing gender equality while working for WIPSU as a Research Officer. WIPSU provides support to women in politics in Zimbabwe with a view to increase their qualitative and quantitative participation and influence in policy and decision-making processes.
From 2006 to 2009, Dura worked with Women’s Action Group (WAG), one of the notable civil society organisations that has advocated for women’s rights in Zimbabwe. And it was during this period that WAG’s Executive Director, Edinah Masiyiwa, noticed that Dura was destined for bigger responsibilities within the movement.
“One thing I admired about Sally when I worked with her was that when she set goals for herself she worked hard to achieve them, which is a good element of good leaders,” said Masiyiwa.
Dura also served as Zimbabwe National Coordinator for the Assembly of Women within the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, and her work has gone beyond Zimbabwe’s borders, with affiliations with the Women’s Democracy Network, a member-driven network active in 61 countries. She has also been a volunteer trainer in women’s politics and leadership skills trainings in Kenya, South Sudan and Nigeria.
The activist in Dura has not been limited to the women’s movement and she has also made an impact in the youth movement; in September 2012, she was elected the first National Chairperson of Youth Forum Zimbabwe, a network of youths involved in different economic, social and political empowerment activities, a position she held until October 2014.
It was also during this term that Dura founded Sally Women’s Institute, a non-profit organisation that empowers women with leadership skills through research, mobilisation, recruitment, training, coaching, mentorship, lobbying, advocacy and facilitating social, economic and political leadership support systems.
Dura holds a Master of Science degree in Development Studies from Women’s University in Africa, a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) History and Development Studies degree from Midlands State University, certification from the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University, a diploma in Public Relations from the Zimbabwe Institute of Public Relations, and a diploma in Project Planning and Management from Christian College of Southern Africa.
Besides her academic qualifications, Dura has a few honours and awards to her name, including being a Friedrick Ebert Stiftung Youth Leadership Training Programme certificate holder, receiving a Distinguished Service award from WIPSU in recognition for generous commitment of time, support and inspiration in 2011 and being honoured as one of the Top Global Women by Diplomatic Courier for a special annual edition on international women’s day in 2013.
WCoZ is a network of women’s rights activists and women’s organisations with national structures comprising individual and organisational membership. WCoZ brings females from diverse backgrounds together to collectively advocate for the attainment of their rights. The organisational members of the coalition work in diverse fields including health, legal aid, access to education, gender based violence, torture, skills training, poverty reduction, research, property rights and governance issues.
With her new role with WCoZ, Dura will manage the projects and finances of the organisation as well as represent the coalition in different spaces and forums, and to different publics.
Dura has, in the past, served as an elected chairperson of the Harare chapter of WcoZ.