Meet – Mpho Mpofu – Senior Account Manager at Global Office Consulting.
Area of Interest in International Development:
Gender, SRHR, intersectionality, feminist leadership
Girls Not Brides
Background – Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born in Botswana and grew up in Bulawayo Zimbabwe. I have spent most of my adult life schooling or working outside Zimbabwe. I got my BA in Criminology and during my 2nd year of study l realised my passion was in development and gender to be specific. I graduated and went to on to get a Diploma in Development leadership from the COADY Institute in Canada and then went on to pursue my Masters in International Development at the University of Bristol.
In the past four years l have lived in Uganda, Canada and the United Kingdom
What issues do you consider to be most prevalent to women globally?
We march, we petition, we chant and year in year out women continue to be the victims of gender-based violence. I have worked in Uganda where l have seen the extreme brutality of the violence perpetuated against women. This is also the same experience women face in Western countries. Clearly, we should change how we address this issue. I echo the calls of the HMICFRS’s report that violence against women should be given the same gravity as tackling the war on terror.
If you were heading a fund especially for gender, what would be the first thing you would do?
Shut up and listen!! This is one thing that donors don’t want to do. I have witnessed projects being written and funded because that is what the call to funding is asking for and not necessarily what needs to be funded. I would listen to local people and trust them as experts in the field because they have the knowledge and expertise. I wouldn’t just listen but l would implement the recommendations. We have a lot of repetitive funding and very little collaborative work. Maybe all we need to do is step back and listen and then work together towards one common goal (Change).
What are some of the biggest barriers to progress in gender, justice, and global health?
Personally, l think it’s a lack of adequate data and cultural dynamics. There is very little to no gendered data within the sector. Having worked on the Global Count, an online poll for all women and gender diverse people to indicate the issues they view as a priority were they live, it brought to my attention the need for gendered data to support programming and policymaking.
Another issue is that we have different cultures and norms and no one culture can thus be used as the blue-print of what’s right and wrong. Working in Uganda was challenging as this was a completely different space from my normal. However, l learnt to embrace different cultures and practices and to learn without assuming theirs was the worst. It taught me to embrace our difference and to not change anything that wasn’t harmful. For as long as we are divided in views and ideologies, we can never successfully achieve gender justice and global health.
What do you think are some of the solutions to these problems?
There is power in collaborative work. We should stop trying to reinvent the wheel and work together. I have seen different projects funded by different organisations. We all need to work together if we are to see change. I have asked myself several times “if we really are doing development work”? and have concluded for as long as we don’t work together with affected communities, populations and those with the resources and skills, we will forever respond to problems with the wrong solutions.
Tell us something about you that we don’t know?
I am an open book and l think you all know everything about me hahaha. I love traveling and finding solace in safari adventures and being one with nature. For someone who loves the outdoors, l am scared of all creepy crawlies. Lastly, my nephew is the best thing that ever happened to me.
What three items would you take to a desert island and why?
Does my nephew count ?? hahaha. that would be my phone, a good bottle of whiskey, and hair treatment (it’s been eight years of growing my locks relentlessly.
Song that always gets you dancing?
I cannot dance to save my life, but L.O.V.E by Zonke Dikana gets me moving.
What is the best thing about working at GOC?
The DIVERSITY of people. From all walks of life, we are all brought together by our passion for gender and global health. Everyone is passionate about what they do and they always put their best foot forward.
Where are you going to be in ten year’s time?
I just want to make a difference, likely celebrating 10 years at GO haha. l will likely switch to academia for a while and pursue my PhD. My professor challenged me in 2018 and l am one to win challenges. But wherever l will be, be rest assured l will be striving to make the world a better place for women and children.