By Deborah Goldberg, Freelance Writer
Founder and Director, Institute for Young Women Development, Zimbabwe
Glanis Changachirere is a feminist, human rights, and democracy activist. Having started off by questioning day-to-day practices and attitudes that discriminated and oppressed her life as a girl living in rural Zimbabwe, Glanis went on to join student activism fighting for the rights of female students. She braved oppression as the only female student representative in the male-dominated Student Representative Council at Bindura University, and further, police incarceration for demanding academic freedoms.
These harsh life experiences enhanced Glanis’ consciousness on the need for safe-and autonomous spaces for young women and girls, mostly those in marginalized communities, to organize and challenge oppressive practices and systems in the home and in broader public spaces. After completing her university studies in 2008, she founded the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD). IYWD is an organization that mobilizes and strengthens the voice and power of young women and girls to challenge practices and systems that discriminate against and oppress them, through capacity sharing on human rights, equality, and freedoms.
For me, courage is to be outraged and love at the same time. Our anger strengthens our ability to love each other and know that, by coming together and acting on our situation, we can create our envisioned realities.
Due to her bravery and courage, Glanis has made successful inroads in breaking the barriers between tradition and contemporary democratic societies by creating dialogue spaces between young women and various local and national leaders in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central Province. The flagship of her activism has yielded a sense of sustainable livelihoods and a strong spirit of self-care and wellbeing among young women and girls and instilling a ‘human-rights and gender-just’ culture among traditional leaders and courts.
Regionally, she served as a member of a panel of youth experts who drafted the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Youth Engagement Strategy for the African Union Department of Political Affairs.
Internationally, Glanis is a Steering Committee Member of the global democracy movement, the World Movement for Democracy (WMD). She illuminated the WMD Assembly in 2012 with her opening speech on the courageous and determined life of a girl-child in rural Zimbabwe as an inspiration for others to take charge of their lives and fight oppressive socio-cultural and political systems. Glanis’ change story was captured in a documentary supported by the WMD titled Girl Child. In 2013, she was awarded a Democracy Award by the United States-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
Glanis holds a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree in Marketing which is complimented by a Master in Public Policy and Governance.
You can follow Glanis on Twitter @glanyline.