By Buhle Mhlanga -@tshatshazilakhe
Emelda Vhiriri is the of Founder Cultiv8 Africa, Acting Director for ROOTS as well as the Chairperson Young Women's forum for the Women's coalition of Zimbabwe and Co-Chair Southern African Youth Forum (SAYoF SADC).
She wears different hats so she is doing a number of things but simply put, she is cultivating lives one person at a time. Career wise she is focused on youth development and women empowerment through capacity enhancement and Advocacy. Emelda is highly passionate about Africa and it's transformation and is also involved in initiatives such as the Young African Thinker's Convention that has convened at the African Union since 2016 with youths contributing to decision making and realising Agenda 2063, the vision of Africa. She’s recently been appointed Co-Chair of the Southern African Youth Forum (SAYoF) to facilitate meaningful participation of young people in SADC processes.
As Chairperson of the Young Women's forum for the Women's coalition of Zimbabwe, she has been involved in Advocating for gender equality and equity. "International Women's Day's 2019 theme was Balance for Better and my participation in women empowerment is in making sure that the World knows that balance is not a woman issue but a developmental issue, a business issue!" Emelda is working at changing the perception around issues of feminism. Feminism is about acknowledging the existent inequalities and seeking to address them and not the distorted perception of angry women who are irrational and want to do away with men.
In line with her first published book titled "From One Invaluable Woman to another", she creates platforms (Conferences, Book Clubs, Therapy sessions etc) for fellow women to detox, to unearth the priceless woman within and to network and also believes that if iron sharpens iron then Sister sharpens sister. That is what Invaluable Woman is all about.
In line with ministry as a devoted Christian, she uses her worship gift as well as preaching to impact lives, leading people to a place of healing and dominion.
She says Growing up watching my Mom fend for six kids with such strength after divorcing and being surrounded by powerful women who have encouraged her to aim higher than the stars. “There were times when lack shows you that you are privileged to have when others do not have.” She says. At some point in her life, they had to live in a shelter (a story for another time), "I learnt contentment. In that dry season, there were people who sowed into my life especially my aunt Lynette," who is now her Mom and this showed her that She couldn't live a life just for her alone. Someone also needed help. So Emelda's life is more about birthing Significance and giving.
Women's month is a reminder of what we need to be doing everyday which is celebrating fellow women who have taken strides in various areas. It's also a reminder of the progress we have made but most importantly amplifies areas that we still need to address. My line of work with ROOTS at grassroot level in Mashonaland Central has shown me that girls are still vulnerable to a number of things like Child marriages and lack of Education. We still have a long way to go with regards to gender equality in many areas especially in work environments and entrepreneurship. However, regardless of the barriers, she would like to encourage fellow women that “female is nothing but biology, if you can visualize it, you can BE it.”