AS the nation continues to celebrate women’s month, Thando Gwinji, a 33-year-old woman from Nkulumane suburb in Bulawayo deserves recognition for uplifting a number of women and rural girls by equipping and empowering them with digital skills.
Gwinji is a digital media specialist and gender activist and is currently working with Youth for Innovation Trust (YIT).
She is also the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Young Feminist Movement and Zimbabwe Chapter Ambassador of the Technovation Girls programme.
Gwinji’s motivation to venture into innovation was fuelled by her desire to do things differently and utilise information communication technology.
“With over 10 years of experience working with the youth within the civil society, I realised that there is a need to do things differently in order for us to achieve a meaningful and sustainable impact.
“This inspired me to be a woman in innovation who would utilise information communication technology and arts to push the women empowerment agenda,” she said.
Gwinji has been working on a number of projects to equip rural girls with digital skills and teaching female entrepreneurs online marketing.
“One of my major projects was the digital skills for entrepreneurs’ projects that l did nationally under Tech-women Zimbabwe and we have also imparted digital skills to rural girls under the Youth for Innovation Trust.
“The purpose of both projects is to position young people for impact in the fourth industrial revolution and also considering that the second project came after the Covid- 19 era where girls now have to learn and conduct their businesses online,” said Gwinji.
Gwinji said they have implemented a programme where they teach women and girls to make mobile applications.
“We implemented the techno innovation program for the past four years and we have inspired and taught girls to make mobile applications for social change.
“We still are advocating for the inclusion of youths in parliamentary spaces and have been advocating for gender equality,” said Gwinji.
Gwinji noted the challenges that she faces as a woman in innovation and highlighted the need to change policies and invest in women’s efforts.
“As an empowered woman, l face a lot of challenges because the working environment is not friendly for women.
It calls for a change in policy, practice and our laws need to consider that women can do it for society to believe it.
“We need to deliberately invest in women’s efforts to ensure that all the spaces are friendly for women,” said Gwinji.
She encouraged women to create systems that allow them to live the life they want and be innovative in their approach.
“As a woman you have to know that being strong does not mean you have to be subjected to injustices, so let’s stop the strong woman narratives and create systems that allow us to work and be paid enough to live the life we want and it all starts with being innovative,” said Gwinji.
She said despite its potential, women are heavily under-represented in the digital world, particularly in rural settings where access, lack of skills, cost, and other socio-cultural factors limit girls’ and women’s ability to engage with new technologies.
Gwinji was recently honoured with an award in ICT innovation and advocacy during this year’s National Youth Day and before that she was honoured with another award as a gender champion by the Netherlands Embassy in Zimbabwe.