Meet FHR’s new Gender Coordinator!
The Foundation for Human Rights is excited to introduce Ms. Rumbidzai Elizabeth P. Chidoori as our new Gender Coordinator.
Rumbie holds an LLB (Law) degree and a Masters in Human Rights both from the University of Fort hare. She is also currently doing her LLD in International Law with the University of Johannesburg.
She brings to the position almost a decade of experience working in the sector providing leadership on advocacy and research to advance gender equality and gender justice, particularly in the area of women’s rights. Most recently she was involved in co-drafting the National Declaration against Gender Based-Violence and Femicide launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2019. “I am excited about joining the Foundation, working with like-minded individuals and being able to influence the change we want to see. I identify as a pan-African feminist, committed to fighting against injustice, inequality, poverty and discrimination and I envision a world where every person irrespective of their gender is able to realise their full potential.”
Rumbie has previously worked for other human rights based organisations to advance gender and women’s rights including POWA (People Opposing Women’s Rights), Human Rights Watch, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Dag Hammarskjold Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Rumbie has also written, published and presented several articles and papers around issues of Recognition of Customary Marriages in South Africa, Financing for Gender Equality, Unlearning Gender based Violence, Women as Champions of Change and Xenophobia.
We sat down with Rumbidzai in trying to dig deeper into her professional background and experiences in getting to know her better:
- What drew you to pursuing a career in social justice, as opposed to practicing law?
I developed a very keen sense of fairness and justice from a very young age so it was more of a natural progression I suppose. Growing up in a very patriarchal community I always found it concerning that my male cousins often got away with doing very little around the house yet us girls were expected to do quite much and whenever I questioned this I would always get told that this was the way it was and I always felt that that response was not quite adequate. So I resolved to advocate for fairness and as I grew older and began to learn more about equality and justice, studying law just seemed to be the right fit for me. I felt it would equip me with the relevant skills to advocate for social justice, social change and human rights. I have no interest in practice because I perceive the profession to be a very rigid and procedural heavy, whilst the law itself is dynamic. In social justice advocacy there is a lot of room for flexibility, creativity and the best reward is doing good for others, being in service to people who need it the most.
- Do you feel we are heading in the right direction as a nation? Specifically in helping people realise their human rights.
Ohh South Africa, it is a country of contradictions. On one hand, when you look at our constitution, the legislative frameworks and infrastructure development as compared to other African countries you can argue that we are certainly ahead of the pack and doing some things right, but on the other hand when you look closely at the high levels of inequality, the levels and nature of extreme violence and the myriad of socio-economic challenges that plague our nation, it is hard to say things are going right. We as social justice advocates have our work cut out for us, the struggle is long, aluta-continua.
- What human rights issues do you think require urgent attention in the country at the moment?
I think there is a tendency to pit a certain category of human rights over another, all human rights are equally important, and because of their interrelatedness and how they intersect with one another it is important to address these issues simultaneously in order for us to be effective. For instance we cannot talk of addressing Violence against women without addressing issues relating to women’s economic empowerment and women’s sexual and reproductive health rights. That said, I believe our biggest challenges are poverty and inequality, we must find creative, innovative, effective and sustainable solutions to these problems if we are to survive.
And please join us in welcoming Rumbie to the FHR family!!!