Emily Sikazwe: A woman to celebrate

Dr. Emily Sikazwe, former SW Coordinating Committee co-chair, was selected as exceptional women to celebrate International Women’s Day and also to launch VIDEA’s 35 profiles of exceptional women.

This year the Victoria International Development Education Association (VIDEA) is celebrating its 35th year. On International Women's Day, VIDEA launched a project to mark the crucial role of women in development.

Emily, who is an internationally recognized leader in gender equality in development and the CEO of Women for Change in Zambia, was interviewed.

Dr. Emily Sikazwe

Throughout her courageous campaign for gender and human rights, Dr.Emily Sikazwe has maintained an unwavering voice for marginalized people –in the face of intimidation, violence, and denial of democracy rights. Emily built the Zambian NGO, Women for Change, into an organization promoting the rights of women and men, benefiting over 330.000 rural Zambians.

What in your opinion is the role of women in community development?

Historically women have been the centerpiece of community development, in the home, our communities, our churches – the nerve-centre. This role of women can never be over-emphasized, it is as simple as that. This is why Women for Change (WfC) insist that women and men are equal partners in development when it comes to our programming.

What is your motivation/inspiration?

I am inspired by the need to give back to communities that have given me so much, I learned this from my grandmother and mother. Rural communities made me who I am and they inspire me to do everything possible to give back to them.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a person who is touched deeply by the situation that rural communities find themselves in – the material poverty, the poverty of the mind, the rural isolation. I am touched by the child sitting on the street when they should be in school, the women with the baby on her back who is selling produce for a few pennies on the street when they should be able to tend to their baby; and I am humbled to have a role that works to help people like this to realize their gender and human rights and to improve their own situations. I am proud to be able to walk alongside the poor and downtrodden.

Source: VIDEA Victoria International Development Education Association