As with all things in life, it is important that even as we celebrate our achievements, we remember the places we have come from. From humble beginnings and no certainty of success, Her Zimbabwe has moved slowly from strength to strength, quietly becoming one of the most respected media platforms outside of mainstream media.
No easy feat.
An idea this big, getting off the ground in this difficult economic environment?
It seemed impossible.
Starting with a zero budget, we have moved from strength to strength to secure financial support to finally open our own office and hire staff. Yes, we have been through tough times and last week, it was a time to celebrate!
Last month marked the 3-year anniversary of the founding of Her Zimbabwe. And everyone knows that a birthday isn’t a proper birthday without a party! So last Friday, to mark the occasion, Her Zimbabwe hosted its fourth Critical Conversation followed by a joint reception and exhibition launch in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers (ZAFP) at Hypercube Hub.
Her Zimbabwe is the brainchild of Founder and Director, Fungai Machirori. She is the ideas behind this operation whose name now reaches across the globe, thanks to the power of the internet. Her Zimbabwe was conceived as a platform that uses digital media to share and tell the stories of Zimbabwean women. It has since evolved and in addition to its online presence, now frequently hosts offline activities such as workshops and trainings on new media and digital security. Critical Conversations, its latest venture which is an offline space for women to discuss issues of importance face to face, was launched at last year’s Shoko Festival in September.
The topic discussed on Friday’s Critical Conversation explored the experiences of women in traditional media, with thought-provoking conversation and discussion on women’s roles and representation in the media. Panelists Susan Makore (CEO of ZiFm), Tendai Chakaynuka (Radio DJ), Thelma Chikwanha (Political Editor at The Daily News) and Cynthia Matonhodze (photo-journalist) spoke about their experiences working in media. They discussed such important questions such as the glass ceiling for women in media, the inadequacy of journalism training in Zimbabwe and the media’s response to the recent fall of Vice President, Joice Mujuru in which Chikwanha expressed regret that women in media did not support her.
This was then followed by a joint reception and launch of an exhibition entitled, ‘Survivors and Activists Part 1’ which featured vivid images printed on post cards displayed and hung along two ‘washing lines’ in the tent area at the venue. The breathtaking photographs, which included images depicting Zimbabwe’s recurrent water and electricity crises, were all the work of renowned female photographers including Angela Jimu, Cynthia Matonhodze, Mana Meadows and Davina Jogi, all of whom are members of ZAFP.
“The idea of this event was a good and noble idea for two women in media organisations to come together and host an event and it was a success,” stated ZAFP Vice President, Angela Jimu who spoke at the event. “This is the first time we as ZAFP have launched a project, this human rights project. For us it was important to bring human rights to the fore so that people can talk about human rights.”
In many ways, human rights are at the core of Her Zimbabwe’s work. With content that looks at women’s various rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, mental health, LGBTI rights and rights to information and new tools for change, such as information technologies, the platform is working to fill a void in the amplification of women’s voices around a range of issues in Zimbabwe. It is also working to create a digital repository of evidence for activism.
“Having something translate from an idea in your mind into something that is a structure that has systems that work, and that attracts people to it as an idea, is just something that is sometimes a little hard to believe,” said Machirori when asked about how she felt about how far Her Zimbabwe has come. “There are many times this project should have failed, but for whatever reason, we are still here. To look back from that point to now is humbling”.
Representatives from funding partners HIVOS and Free Press Unlimited – Tambudzai Madzimure and Nada Josimovic respectively – spoke at the event, congratulating Her Zimbabwe on this important milestone, with both recounting how far they have seen the organization come the past few years.
So as we celebrate this occasion with three candles blown out on the cake, we look forward to what Her Zimbabwe will achieve next.
What will that be?
Watch this space!
We thank you for all your love and support thus far and hope to take you along with us into the future as we try to make things better.