Supported by Amnesty International, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) is a civic movement in Zimbabwe which was formed in 2003 by Jenni Williams. Its aims and objectives are to
- Provide women, from all walks of life, with a united voice to speak out on issues affecting their day-to-day lives.
- Empower female leadership that will lead community involvement in pressing for solutions to the Zimbabwe economic and political crisis.
- Encourage women to stand up for their rights and freedoms.
- Lobby and advocate on those issues affecting women and their families.
While it is predominantly driven by women, WOZA’s work is very inclusive and ground-breaking, in how it is run. The movement includes people of every age, gender, ability, social status, and economic background, and has a growing chapter of male members in their male chapter, Men of Zimbabwe Arise (MOZA). Today WOZA boasts over 75 000 male and female members across Zimbabwe. Mainly, though, it provides a safe space for Zimbabwean women to come together and speak on issues affecting their daily lives. Ultimately, the movement aims to “empower female leadership” in communities and “encourage women to stand up for their rights and freedoms”. Since its founding, WOZA has participated in hundreds of protests, released several successful campaigns advocating for equality and education in Zimbabwe, and has been a part of international demonstrations, which includes their Valentine’s Day march. Each year, WOZA’s Valentine’s Day demonstration has a different theme which seeks to promote general peace by advocating for people’s rights
The leadership of WOZA, has been awarded accolades from the Ginetta Sagan Amnesty USA award, in Marcj 2012, to the 26th Annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award at the White House in 2009, presented by President Obama. WOZA’s most recent undertaking was the Save Zimbabwe Education project, which collected the thoughts of over 14,600 children and adults on how the most pressing educational issues of Zimbabwe could be solved. In 2006, WOZA compiled the voices of 10,000 Zimbabwean people to create the People’s Charter, a declaration of citizens’ wishes for the future of their country.
The acronym WOZA is an Ndebele word which means ‘come forward’.