Ms Olipa Phiri, a master's student in Development Studies in the Department of Anthropology and Archeology at the University of Pretoria (UP), has been named as one of 72 new Global Champions for women's economic empowerment.
The nominations were announced after a month-long rally during which more than 600 participants from all over the world advocated for women's economic empowerment through several online and social media activities. As a Global Champion for Women's Economic Empowerment, Ms Phiri will participate as an active contributor on UN Women's Empower Women web portal. This platform allows women and men from all over the world to connect and share their personal and professional stories, access the latest resources on women's economic empowerment and participate in learning and professional opportunities.
Ms Phiri focuses on media and development research as part of her studies and is determined to make her mark. She generously volunteers her time and skills and has worked diligently to improve the economic and social stability of women in Southern Africa. She believes that when women are empowered to lead and to advocate for positive change at home, or in the workplace, marketplace, government and community, they contribute to ensuring justice, equality and inclusive decision-making based on mutual respect and a shared commitment to bringing about a more prosperous, balanced and peaceful world.
According to Ms Phiri, gender-based discrimination is commonplace in Southern Africa. 'I grew up in a culture where girls are deprived of opportunities to advance their education and learn basic skills as they are expected to stay at home and raise their children. Empower Women has given me an excellent platform from which to connect and engage with people from different professions all over the world who I might otherwise not have been able to reach,' she said. 'I have been given an opportunity to learn how to be an international advocate for women's empowerment and to share ideas with others around the world about how to bring good practices for women's economic empowerment that have been successful in other communities back to my own community.'
As an Empower Women Global Champion, Ms Phiri became one of the founders of the on-going 'I am (wo)man' campaign, which features both women and men's stories about how they experienced and benefited from women's economic empowerment. By encouraging women from her community to publish blogs on the Empower Women website, many inspirational women in her region have already been able to share their experiences with other women both locally and abroad.