Community Development

Late gender champion Abigail Gamanya saluted in Hurungwe

The late Abigail Gamanya

By Nhau Mangirazi

KAROI – The late gender champion Rumbidzai Abigail Bvunzawabaya Gamanya who passed on in October was saluted in Hurungwe recently with a minute of silence in honour of her role in gender equality and community development.

Gamanya was the Gender and Media Connect national director.

She was saluted during the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) Civic Education and Sensitization Forum held recently in Karoi.

It was held under the theme ‘‘Creating a sustainable community-based citizen oversight agency and agents used to track and monitor public conduct of duty-bearers and exert accountability pressure to facilitate a democratic transition via elections.” The meeting was attended by civic organizations representatives from Mashonaland West.

Joel Zilala, a human rights activist and Hurungwe Community Radio Initiative board chairman paid tribute to the late Gamanya saying she will be remembered as a ‘global gender champion’ whose family connection is linked to Hurungwe’ within Mashonaland West.

‘‘Allow me to pay tribute to the late Abigail Bvunzawabaya Gamanya, a gender champion who made her name globally. As we salute her deeds, we greatly remember her as one of our own from Hurungwe. Her maiden name, Bvunzawabaya has a family connection in Mahwau area under Chief Chundu here in Hurungwe. Gamanya spent her early years in Hurungwe as she is one of our own daughters who helped to make gender issues topical from family to policy-makers levels. Here was a woman who connected every social, economic, and any other challenge to a gender solution using media as a great tool of development,’’ said Zilala.

He added that the late Gamanya played a critical role in helping women participate in gender-related matters through media at a community level.

‘‘As Hurungwe Community Radio Initiative, we are glad that Gamanya helped us and natured our dream of a community-based radio centred on issues affecting women and girls in general and some at policy formulation. Through Gender and Media Connect training, it was easier for our own women programming with female parliamentarians ready to comment on any issues. The Gender and Media Connect linked us through the training held by most journalists with female Members of Parliament in Zimbabwe,’’ said Zilala.

The Hurungwe Community Radio Initiative ran a series of women and girls issues including lack of sanitary wear among rural girls in Mola, environment and climate change, food insecurity, health, and other developmental issues affecting women with disabilities among other topical issues affecting communities.

Human and wildlife conflict affecting women and girls in Kariba rural and urban areas was central to women’s involvement through radio programs.

‘‘During the Covid-19 national lockdowns, Hurungwe Community Radio Initiative ran these programs with our own female MPs commenting regardless of political afflation. The policymakers were the voice of the voiceless and spoke with authority on matters affecting them and related these with the same communities they represent in parliament. It was through Gamanya that the female parliamentarians would accept any media house to comment on issues affecting communities. She will be remembered as our own hero, a gender champion who supported community development,’’ said Zilala.

Female MPs including Concilia Chinanzvavana (Zvimba Proportional Representative), Christine Nyere (Kariba Proportional Representative), and Goodluck Kwaramba (Hurungwe Proportional Representative) among others were guests during the community development programs.

Kwaramba is the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentarians Caucus chairperson.

ZDI programs officer Stanford Nyatsanza said it was a befitting salute for the late Gamanya.

‘The salutation of late gender champion is befitting here in Mashonaland West as more women and girls are represented for the forum. As we remember late gender and equality champion Abigail Gamanya, let us strive to give women space to discuss issues affecting them daily that may help in the community and national development,’’ said Nyatsanza.

A staunch women’s rights activist, the late Gamanya succumbed to pneumonia in Harare on 10 October 2022 aged 49.

She trained as a journalist and joined the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Zimbabwe) in the early 1990s.

Born in Masvingo in 1973, Gamanya obtained a National Diploma in Mass Communication at Harare Polytechnic. She worked as a Public Relations consultant for three years, before joining MISA-Zimbabwe where she worked for another three years, and later joined the Federation of African Media Women in Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) as national director.

FAMWZ later changed to Gender and Media Connect.

Gamanya is survived by her daughter Ruvarashe and husband Darlington

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende