Thabiso Scotch Mufambi
Harare – In 1995 at the World Conference on Women in China, the international community adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – the most progressive blueprint to date to advance the rights of women and girls.
Twenty-six years later some gains have been registered on this front, but there is general agreement that the world is still far from achieving equality and equity.
More than 130 million girls were not in school last year, and it is statistics like these that organisations like the recently launched Selina STEM Trust are trying to do something about.
Fronted by United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean philanthropist Ms Loveness Mangezi, the trust is assisting females aged between 12 and 25-years-old to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
In interview with The Southern Times this week, Ms Mangezi said, “The pandemic has posed a disproportionate existential threat to young women and girls in STEM. Our work strives to help elevate those voices onto a higher platform, keep the academically gifted girl child in school, university and take up careers in STEM.”
Founded in honor of her late mother, Selina, Mangezi said more should be done to empower women.
“The foundation supports young women and girls from underprivileged backgrounds, such as orphans and those in remote rural areas. We help enrol academically gifted learners and we work with educational institutions to identify beneficiaries.”
Ms Mangezi said she was currently using her personal funds to bankroll the Trust, and she was engaging individual and institutional well-wishers as well as governments for support.
“Should we get more resources – monetary and non-monetary, we would be in a position to help more young women and girls,” she said. “We have recruited a multi-disciplinary team to see this vision through.”
Ms Mangezi was in 2020 shortlisted for a Special Recognition Award by the United Nations Women UK for supporting frontline workers for her philanthropic work related to the COVID-19 pandemic.