Kathy Matsika, Zimbabwe

Kathy Matsika, Zimbabwe

Date: July 1, 2015
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Kathy Matsika is a librarian at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe. She believes her interaction with Gender Links has made her appreciate gender dynamics in information collection, dissemination and management.

As an information scientist, I have come to appreciate the importance of gender sensitive information strategies for libraries.

I got an invitation to attend a Gender Links workshop in 2010.   Gender Links contacted NUST seeking contacts to work with on gender, information and media. As the institution’s librarian, I fit the type of person that the organisation wanted to reach.

At the training, I suppose, I talked too much, contributing with excitement to the discussions on gender issues. As a result, I found myself wound up in the Gender Links spell and network. NUST later got a request to chair the Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC) advisory board.   Here I am now, an active member of the GMDC.

As I reflect on my relationship with Gender Links, I notice how I have become a gender aware and balanced information provider. Gender Links broadened my career horizons to appreciate gender dynamics in information collection and dissemination. Through Gender Links, I also participate in activities that are outside my line of professional work thus exposing myself to better understand broader gender issues.

The first Gender Links workshop I attended included participants from information science, library, media and journalism. We discussed gender, media education, information dissemination and management to support learners in various training institutions.

The diversity among participants provided great opportunities to network and to be “gender linked,À i.e. connected to the Gender Links family. The workshop brought together librarians and lecturers to discuss and share. We became aware of the importance for academic libraries to collect gender sensitive materials.

The workshop created positive energies with profound contributions from participants on key issues of gender, media training and information provision. It also attempted to explain various challenges faced by institutions of higher education in media training such as a lack of curriculum for gender-sensitive training, and a lack of information and knowledge resources on media and gender in the region.

Since my interaction with Gender Links, I have started viewing my library and information work from a gendered perspective. Now, as I consider collection developmentÀ“acquisitions of library materialsÀ“I make certain that my colleagues do a gender analysis for materials we acquire. This includes documenting the author and the contents of the information source in relation to gender issues. Gender Links helped sharpen my gender analysis skills. These help me to check materials that we might acquire, establishing its gender bias and gender sensitivity.

I have also acquired skills that help me advocate for gender sensitive policies in institutions of higher learning, especially at my institution, NUST. As the librarian, I sit on a number of policy committees and I am constantly reminding my colleagues to respect and enact gender equality principles in our work.

At a policy level, I am helping to finalise harassment policies. NUST is working on strengthening its harassment policies to protect both women and men from any form of harassment within the institution.   NUST philosophy is to go beyond mainstreaming gender as mandated by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education in Zimbabwe. The university wishes to strengthen harassment policies to ensure that the institution is a safe environment for learners. Young people are exposed to many forms of harassment in society and we would like the university to be a safe haven in this regard.

Looking into the future, I want to see Gender Links continue to champion gender issues especially through the SADC Gender and Development Protocol. I hope to continue working with Gender Links by focusing more on the policy level to ensure that both national and institutional policies are gender sensitive, reducing gender-based violence and empowering both sexes.



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