Mukundi/Umngobi Awards Honor the 'Ordinary' Woman

After a recent Press Release by the Economic Justice for Women Project [EJWP] announcing the Mukundi/Umngobi Awards, we sought out its Exe...

After a recent Press Release by the Economic Justice for Women Project [EJWP] announcing the Mukundi/Umngobi Awards, we sought out its Executive Director, Margaret Mutsamvi [MM] for a brief one on one. Below is how our exchange went.

What are the Mukundi/Umnqobi Awards and when were they established?

[MM] The Mukundi/Umnqobi awards are a project by Economic Justice for Women Project, an initiative meant to facilitate women’s economic empowerment towards financial freedom and independence. The awards are recognition and celebratory accolades in honor of Zimbabwean women. It is an event to celebrate the resilience, hard–work and courage in spite of the hurdles that women face, ranging from socio-cultural contexts, infrastructure, policies and legislation. Economic Justice for Women Project (EJWP) acknowledges the role-played by women at household and local community level and how that feeds into the national outlook. This is an opportunity to celebrate a critical group that is often marginalized. This is our first call released on the 19th of July 2017.

Who is the brains behind it?

[MM] It’s an idea that I conceived, borrowing from the other awards we have seen but also realizing that we needed to celebrate the achievements of marginalized and ordinary women in the grassroots at national level. They are the worst hit by the gaps in supporting infrastructure, policy, legislation and they are the most affected by patriarchal structures. These women needed to be acknowledged, honored and celebrated for their small victories amidst big challenges to encourage them, to inspire other women and to expose the ills that handicap the growth of women towards equity. The concept however is a culmination of events and feedback from EJWP team and peers.

Is there a story behind the name itself, ‘Mukundi/Umnqobi’ Can you break it down for us?

[MM] Mukundi/Umnqobi are Shona and Ndebele names that mean victor, someone who has fought a major battle and won. Over the years, living with our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts etc. we have experienced so many stories of change, we have witnessed their determination to make things better at household/community level. While they had nothing but their strength, a garden or a small piece of land that was not even in their name but performed wonders and turned everything magic with their hands, hard-work and positive attitude. These groups of women do not boast of high levels of education, neither do they know much about their provisions by right, have few ideas of the legislation’s obligations towards their welfare but solely rely on their hard work and a positive attitude in the midst of restrictive opportunities and information. Ordinary women in ordinary contexts doing extraordinary things…. We want to share their story, honor and celebrate them.

What do you aim to achieve through these awards?

[MM] The aim is that as we honor these women, to remind them that the world has not forgotten their hard work. The awards are our own way of shining the light on the real challenges faced by women and it also gives stakeholders an insight into the real needs of these groups based on their stories. Also, EJWP seeks to bring attention to the real challenges that ordinary Zimbabwean women face and channel attention towards them. It’s a platform to interact with the various interest groups with a role to empower ordinary marginalized Zimbabwean women. It’s a call to everyone to realize the true story and to come through as support to Zimbabwe’s majority yet vulnerable populace.


[MM] Everyone who has lived in Zimbabwe and has had a chance to witness such a character can submit a nomination. The nominee has to be a Zimbabwean by right and currently living in Zimbabwe. One can even nominate one's self. No one can tell the story better than she herself anyway.

What do you believe makes these awards unique?

[MM] The Mukundi/Umnqobi Awards are unique because of the type of woman that they are targeting. We have seen quite a number of women’s awards but usually targeting social group leaders, community heads and women spearheading change at national level or regional level. We are targeting an ordinary woman in their respective households because that’s where everything begins. It’s for extraordinary mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts. Generally, women are rarely acknowledged for their unending strength. They are the first to wake up and the last ones to go to sleep everyday and we strongly felt that such strength, hard work and commitment needed to be acknowledged, honored and celebrated, but above all else, it needed to be invested in to make the world a better place.

How have the preparations gone so far?

[MM] We have just opened up our lines and we will be receiving nominations up to the 31st of October. We have started engaging interested partners to strengthen the magnitude and impact of the event to be held on the 15th of December 2017. Everyone sharing the same vision with Economic Justice for Women Project is welcome to partner us.

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Urban Craft Magazine: Mukundi/Umngobi Awards Honor the 'Ordinary' Woman
Mukundi/Umngobi Awards Honor the 'Ordinary' Woman
Urban Craft Magazine
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