In her electrifying opening address at the 7th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Lima, Peru last fall, Glanis Changachirere described her upbringing in rural Mashonaland Central Province of Zimbabwe. “Like other peasant families,” she recalled, “my family relies on farming and struggled to fund my education. Although they tried hard, it was not easy with society dictating that the girl child is not worth investing in.”
Glanis became involved in her crusade for women’s rights as a result of her strong desire to receive an education. She defied the norms of a highly patriarchal society and enrolled in university where she joined the Student Representatives’ Council as the only woman. She says she joined the student movement to fulfill her desire to say that “women are equal to our male counterparts and can equally represent their fellow students.”
Glanis’ activism had severe consequences, and she found herself in police incarceration on a number of occasions on the charge of “fighting for and representing student rights.” But she was not to be intimidated, knowing that she was fighting for the right to education and the improvement of the lives of girls and young women in a free Zimbabwe.
In 2009 Glanis established the Institute for Young Women’s Development to provide a platform, in her words, “where young women can organize and come together to live a life where they have a choice in how to lead their lives and have a sustainable livelihood.” The organization educates young women about their human rights and encourages them to become involved in political activity.
The Institute for Young Women’s Development has empowered thousands of young women who now have an important ally in their quest for education and rights in Zimbabwe.
For her extraordinarily effective work on behalf of rural women and her deep commitment to the cause of a free and democratic Zimbabwe, the National Endowment for Democracy is proud to present the 2013 Democracy Award to Glanis Changachirere.