POI– We are greatly humbled to feature a versatile Writer , Health Issues Expert and staunch advocate of social and Gender Justice , Barbara Mhangami – Ruwende. Mhangami-Ruwende is a mesmerizing inspiration to women and girls in Zimbabwe , America and others countries. She has a very tight life schedule as she run a non- government research project , write stories , organize speeches and articles for gender justice conferences . This Creative Titan also works as a Writer in Residence , While in she has graced several Writing , Creative and Arts Spaces that include Writers Festivals ,International Book Fairs , Art Symposiums and Cultural gatherings. We are greatly humble again to feature this bundle of talent in our fast growing , humble and inspiring- Long Live Mhangami-Ruwende!
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What is your greatest life, artistic, academic and creative
My greatest life achievement is having and raising four beautiful, socially conscious, activist, grounded, inquisitive, creative and overall loving and loveable daughters. My greatest artistic/creative achievement is writing and completing a novel with the title: ‘I did not ask to be born’. My greatest academic achievement is the PhD in epidemiology, where I conducted research in a topic I am passionate about.
What roles are you playing in transforming your communities?
I have always been a community-oriented person. I attribute it to my upbringing, which was partially rural. I learned very early in life that there was nothing more rewarding than when we all do well. In every community I have lived in, I have tried to contribute something positive. For example, my PhD is looking on Knowledge and attitudes towards HIV in the West African immigrant women in the Detroit Metro area. The long- term view is to create evidence-based intervention programmes, in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Community Health, tailored towards this community that is on the margins here in the United States, Many do not speak or write English so the programmes would be in French, Wollof, and Madinka. I also consult with lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers on matters pertaining to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Michigan. This is an issue most Americans know nothing but there are more cases of FGM being reported.
I am also an activist against gender-based violence, homophobia, racism and all things that pertain to social justice issues. I take part in protests and marches to protect women’s reproductive health rights, and I am part of the struggle for a basic human right: Healthcare.
What are your future prospects in your career and your life?
I look forward to continuing the work that I am doing in public health and I also look forward to writing more. As my girls get older, I will hopefully have more time to devote to my creative projects.
What is your parting shot to fellow women and girls?
Be true to who you are in all areas of your life. This is not easy given the fact that we live in a world that often treats difference as a negative thing. Fight for the space to be totally you. It is your right and no one has the right to dictate to you how you ought to be. You have the right to express your sexuality, your political and cultural views without harassment or fear of retribution. Discover the things that give you joy and embrace them. It is your birthright to be joyful. Help your sisters on the life long journey of self- discovery. Share opportunities, knowledge and laughter and where you find yourself in a leadership position, lead from feminine leadership principles. This way we can create a better world than the one we currently live in. Be kind to oneself and to one another, it makes the most arduous journey lighter.
Barbara Mhangami –Ruwende is a scholar practitioner in public health with a focus on minority women’s sexual and reproductive health.Mhangami-Ruwende is the Founder/ Director of the Africa Research Foundation for the Safety of Women. She is originally from Zimbabwe. She holds degrees from University of Glasgow, Scotland, Walden University and attended the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She writes opinion editorials on the status of women with a focus on Africa. She consults on policy and has written policy briefs with recommendations on ending violence against women. She has been on panel discussions around the issue of FGM and looking at novel ways to end the harmful cultural practice.
Barbara is a vocal activist and advocate on issues to do with gender-based violence, economic justice for women and gender parity in government institutions. She is a writer published in the short story anthology Where to Now by AmaBooks Publishers, Zimbabwe, on Storytime online literary journal, on Her Zimbabwe feminist website, in the anthology of short stories, Still by Negative Press, London, in the Journal of African Writing, 2014, in the annual short story Anthology, African Roar, 2013 the Caine Prize Anthology 2014, the Gonjon Pin and Other Stories by New Internationalist. She is also published in Guernica Magazine 2016, USA and in Maple Tree Literary Supplement, 2017, Canada. Her poetry has been published in the anthology Muse for Women, 2013 and African Drum by Diaspora Publishers, 2013. She was a 2014 Hedgebrook Writer in Residence and Caine Prize for African Writing workshop attendee. She is a mentor with the Writivism program at the center for African excellence (CACE) Foundation and a member of Rotary International.