Amazing women need to be recognised

Juliana Maponga Jonathan is the mastermind behind Zimbabwe International Women Awards (ZIWA), a platform that celebrates the achievements and success of those in the Diaspora and helps orphaned students to pay school fees back home.

Juliana Jonathan:  Wants to inspire the next generation.
Juliana Jonathan: Wants to inspire the next generation.

It also recognises the unsung heroines who have made a contribution in the areas of entrepreneurship, business, education, social, charity, humanitarian work, entertainment and arts.

Jonathan believes Zimbabweans all over the world are recognised as people with a remarkably strong work ethic and dedication to duty. Zimbabwean women, in particular, have been recognised for their work in the international community as successful business women, artists, humanitarians and activists for various causes.

She wants ZIWA to bring these community role models together, not only to celebrate and recognise their success, but to inspire the younger generation of Zimbabwean women.

Born in Harare, she grew up with her maternal grandparents and was educated at Tafara High 2 and Christ Ministries College. She moved to the United Kingdom in 1999 to pursue her studies. The mother of two is now in her second year at York St John University, doing Children, Young People and Families (CYPE).

She chose this course to equip her to fulfil her dream of fighting for children's rights, protecting the vulnerable and supporting those in need. “It allows me to work with a varied and diverse group of people, to learn and experience a different aspect of life that is dynamic and evolving. I want to help empower others to solve their own problems and make a difference in their lives,” she said.

“I had a very humble Christian upbringing and a typical African childhood, where we would go out and play in the streets as young kids. My grandparents were church leaders and well respected in the community, but when it came to me and my brother they were very strict,” she said in a recent interview.

She founded ZIWA because she believes that many women are doing wonders without being recognised. “Their work should be made known to the public, as this might change the world,” she said.

“Women in our region are hardworking, strong and resilient. They manage to survive in harsh circumstances where other women around the world would crumble and give up. Sadly many women are still governed by the ethics of the olden days, where they think they are inferior to their male counterparts. I would like to see participation of women in politics and decision making positions. We are not so far off, but I feel the gender balance transition is dragging and something should be done for it to be a priority in our lives,” said Jonathan.

Together with some friends she started a project that pays school fees and buys uniforms and clothes for 17 orphans in Marimba. “I am so impressed with the children as they are all doing well in school. We have three who are at high school from this year and the rest are in primary level,” she said.

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