Gladys Muzirwa

Gladys Muzirwa

Date: March 11, 2011
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Learning Journey

I joined Gender Links in June 2009 as an intern in the GEMSA office. At that time I knew little about the work environment, I had to stand in for somebody who had gone for maternity leave. Hopes were so high that it disappointed many that I was laid-back and seemingly lacked energy. I was timid during that time – I would sit at my computer, I didn’t even know that I had to open my Outlook to see emails. In hindsight, Fortune, the network manager who had lots of work on his hands had to sit with me several times and demonstrate how to do even the simplest of things.

I remember on my third day after starting the job, he came to my computer and asked me to open my Outlook to check emails. I told him I didn’t know where Outlook was and oh my, he was more shocked than disappointed at my response. Shame, I feel so bad for him because I wasted so much of his precious time asking for help at every turn. In most cases he would ask me to do something, show me how he expects it to be done. I, wanting to be the smart person and desperate to please my boss, would assure him that I have completely understood and would go back to my desk and start struggling to make sense and find my around doing it.

A task that takes me thirty minutes to do now would take me a whole day to do back then. Right now I can only imagine how he used to feel about all this, especially when he would come to check on progress only to find out I’m still on square one. I remember one Friday, he asked me to do a quote comparison for a server because we were going to move office. I was provided with the template, the three quotes and one can imagine how simple and straight forward the task was going to be. All of the quotes were in electronic version and so upon demonstration I had been told I would just copy and paste figures from the quotes to the comparison sheet. It worked out with the two quotes and the other was locked so could not copy anything, all I could see was this little thing that appeared like a hand as I scrolled up and down the document trying to find my way to copying the figures.

An hour later my boss came to check on progress only to learn that I had made two entries only and I told him that I could not copy the third one, “The little hand would not allow me,” I said to him. He asked if I hadn’t thought of just putting the number into the sheet without necessarily copying and pasting. I had never felt so daft and useless. I was so determined to get it right for once, but I guess that was wishful thinking. Clearly, the task looked simple enough to me and I had said to myself, I will not spoil this one chance to prove myself, I am going to religiously follow the instructions he gave to me and come up with some good work. I never stopped to think that I could just enter these figures without necessarily copying and pasting from this stubborn quotation. I had to do as I had been told, goodness! One can imagine how low that level of initiative was.

At one time I was asked to write a short biography about myself to put out on the website, I quickly scribbled one on my notebook and went to the boss and presented it confidently as this was one thing that I was ever asked to do and I did so fast. Little did I know, I had to type it up and send to him via e-mail. I look back at all this and laugh because I have grown so much out of all this. I learnt how things are done each day with the acknowledgement that I was also sitting on my laurels at times. I would take all as constructive advice as opposed to sulking and blaming other people for my mistakes.

I moved to Gender Links and worked as the research intern with the GBV Indicators project. This is where my journey to discovering myself began. I learnt a lot about gender-based violence, its impact on the victims, but also how speaking out helps survivors to heal and be set free from their past. I came to the realisation that many are abused by their known partners, but they refuse to see it as abuse and many a time they blame themselves for what is happening to them. There is a tendency to think that they are not good enough, which is complete fallacy.

For three months I worked with the Deputy Director, Kubi Rama, as a Programme Assistant. In this position, one of my major tasks was to consolidate the Programmes Planner. Kubi explained to me how this is done but I didn’t quite get it and so went back to my office, tried to get my head around it but I just could not do it. I called Bridget and asked her to explain all this in Shona and there I was in her office. Bridget explained it to me and I eventually got a grip on it. I remember Kubi was so pleased at my first attempt, I assumed I had done much better than she had anticipated.

Moving to Monitoring and Evaluation meant a whole lot of new things to learn, but it was all exciting. The first time I consolidated the report, I was so terrified when the formats were vexing me and changing at every turn. I would gnash my teeth but through all of this I learnt something new every time. As I write, I have been taught how to generate a lot of monthly systems reports, which I feel very excited about because I now have a sense of fulfillment. I feel valuable and powerful as I have knowledge of my work and can make sense of what is going on in other programmes as well.

Gender training was an intense but exciting learning experience. I work for a gender organisation and I got used to terminology around gender and sex every day, but it dawned on me that I did not really know what these meant and how they apply in everyday life. From this training course, I have leant to always have my gender lens in my pocket and use them when confronted with a scenario and analyse it.

Our group analysed clippings around the Caster Semenya saga. Through this exercise I learnt how to analyse newspaper stories with a gender lens, how women and man are viewed in news, how women and man are used as sources, how sex and gender was used interchangeably in the stories, how pictures are captioned in a wrong way to the media’s advantage, how women are seen as minor and are only asked for views as victims while men as experts. I learnt how culture and tradition contribute a great deal to gender stereotypes and how women who challenge these are given names by the media and people surrounding them.

Gladys Muzirwa is Executive Assistant at Gender Links.


0 thoughts on “Gladys Muzirwa”

Eric says:

this was quite a learning journey and i believe now you have mastered have been empowered

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