Fungai Machirori

Fungai Machirori

Date: March 27, 2011
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A winning formula – what GL means to me

The first article I wrote for the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service was as a wide-eyed 22-year-old university student doing a year-long internship with a Zimbabwean AIDS service organisation.
I was raw, eager and energetic in a way that only youth or passion – or both – allow for. And I definitely had both! My first article was about bringing men on board HIV prevention efforts and entailed me conducting thought-provoking interviews with some extraordinary Zimbabweans; a process that helped to nurture and expand my gender consciousness.

When I started my internship, I was commonly referred to as “Little Girl” or “Miss Fu” by my workmates because of my shy and soft-spoken demeanour. I definitely admit to having been a naÁ¯ve young woman who only understood certain concepts around femininity, masculinity and culture from a theoretical perspective.
Therefore, having the chance to write and make sense of things for others helped me also make sense of things for myself. And having a platform such as the Opinion and Commentary Service was completely vital towards this process of enlightenment.

Firstly, I always had the support of a great editor, Deborah Walter, who helped me fine-tune ideas, threshing them out to get to the heart of issues. When I began to take a keen interest in reporting about Zimbabwe’s Domestic Violence Bill (enacted into law in 2006), I knew I always had the support of Gender Links in helping me to give voice to emerging challenges and opportunities.

When I wrote about taboo topics like virginity testing, abortion or sex work, I wrote with the confidence and assurance that I had a forum that appreciated alternative, critical and constructive thought. I could therefore be myself in my writing and advocate to the loudest decibel my voice could be propelled to.

It was this loudness that made Deborah Walter (the previous editor), or Deb as I know her, encourage me to consider applying for an Africa-wide award for excellence in HIV and AIDS communication back in 2007. Just turned 23 and still an intern, I remember asking her how she thought I ever stood a chance of winning as I had been writing for less than a year and was, in many ways, still forming my journalistic voice.

A few minutes later, an email appeared in my inbox. Her response said words to the effect, “That doesn’t matter. You write with conviction about the things you see and you write them so well.”
I applied for that award. And I won it!

That award introduced me to the extraordinary organisation, the African Network for Strategic Communication in Health and Development (AfriComNet) which coordinates it annually. And through this introduction, I have been privileged to work on many exciting HIV and communication projects, as well as sit on AfriComNet’s Board of Directors since 2009.

I turn 27 this year. And I often wonder how different things could have been for me if I did not have such support around me to nurture my writing and the expansion of my world view.

There’s nothing I am more passionate about than gender issues and there is nothing I am more certain that I want to commit my life’s work towards. As a woman who bears testimony to the simple truth that access to education and other enabling social structures (supportive family and professional units, for instance) encourages growth beyond imagination, I want to thank Gender Links for helping me bloom over the last five years.

Today, I have at GL the constant support and encouragement of their new editor, Danny Glenwright, who always urges me to interrogate my world anew and speak of what I see and hear. That is me in a nutshell – the little girl who grew because someone believed that she could.

My hope is that Gender Links continues to make other young women exceed their wildest expectations and add their important voices and insights to global discourse around gendered hegemony and inequality. I am the change and the voice of that change. And so are you!

0 thoughts on “Fungai Machirori”

vimbai says:

I am inspired by women like you Fungie and believe I can be the best in all I do too.

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