Women’s Day: ‘I did it, you too, can lead in any field’


Today, Zimbabwe joins the world in celebrating the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021.

Celebrated on March 8 each year, this year’s theme is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’

On International Women’s Day, as the world battles with Covid-19, The Herald spoke to inspiring women who have made a mark in Zimbabwe in the areas of medicine and law.

The women are Dr Nyaradzo Mavis Mgodi, who is a senior researcher at the University of Zimbabwe Clinical Trials Research Centre (UZ-CTRC); Dr Junior Mutsvangwa a Clinical Microbiologist (PhD) with 15 years’ experience in laboratory diagnostics; and legal practitioner and vastly experienced child rights advocate Petronella Nyamapfene.

They encourage younger women and girls to take up the task nomatter the field.

Dr Mgodi, (MBChB, MMed) has over 10 years of experience leading and conducting clinical trials for HIV prevention in women of reproductive age in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, eSwatini, Tanzania and Uganda.

She holds several portfolios in the medical and biomedical sciences fields, including but not limited to principal investigator at the UZ-CTRC where she leads multiple studies assessing safety and effectiveness of several biomedical interventions for HIV prevention. 

Dr Mgodi is protocol co-chairperson for the dapivirine ring study conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa and protocol co-chairperson for the Antibody Mediated Prevention studies conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa, USA, Latin America, and Switzerland. 

An HIV Prevention Trials Network Executive Committee member Scientific and ethics reviewer, Dr Mgodi is also a Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe’s National Health Research Development Committee Board member — Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe.

She is a technical advisor — Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA1).

Dr Mgodi has published several peer reviewed articles in scientific journals and serves as a deputy editor for two scientific journals.

She is the Deputy Editor — Journal of the International AIDS Society and also an Associate Editor — Frontiers in Global Reproductive Health – HIV and STIs.

Her list of accomplishments is long and inspiring.

She is also a Policy and Implementation Steering Committee Member for the Global Evaluation of Microbicide Sensitivity (GEMS) project, and also a conference Advisory Committee member — International AIDS Society (IAS). 

Dr Mgodi is also a Conference Advisory Committee member — HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P). 

Her work in biomedical science has been recognised globally through various awards that include the Omololu Falobi Award for Excellence in HIV Prevention Research Community Advocacy — 2016 ; UNESCO L’Oréal Women in Science Award nominee — 2018.

“Besides my work in HIV prevention, I am also currently working on studies assessing different interventions for Covid-19 prevention,” she told The Herald last Friday. “I bring a wealth of experience from HIV prevention and the best practices from the HIV field are being used in Covid-19, hence fast-tracking the development of Covid-19 prevention interventions.” 

Dr Mgodi said she arrived where she is because of hard work, diligence, dedication and being afforded the opportunity and support. 

“My parents were firm believers of good educating for all their children,” she said. “I did my high school at Eaglesvale High School in Harare and studied Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics at A level. I then proceeded to study Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe.” 

 During the six-year undergraduate tenure, Dr Mgodi was awarded a Bachelor of Science Intercalated in Biochemistry (Honors) Degree and received several awards, including the Harry Wulfsohn Medals for excellence in Community Medicine and Psychiatry before graduating in Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degrees programme with Honours in paediatrics and internal medicine.

“I then worked as a junior/senior resident medical officer and senior house officer before proceeding to Master’s in Medicine postgraduate studies in Pathology at the University of Zimbabwe,” she added.

On International Women’s Day, Dr Mgodi says she has always wanted to be a medical doctor ever since she was a little girl.

“Being a scientist, and a Christian has given me a solid background to be a good, empathetic doctor,” she said. “Medicine is not just a job for me, but a vocation. I am an African woman, with a passion and the scientific and medical prowess to positively impact the quality of life of African women and girls.

“This is very gratifying, and I would not change it for anything. I encourage all young girls planning to embark on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers to go for it. The world is your oyster!” 

For more information follow the URL  Women’s Day: ‘I did it, you too, can lead in any field’ | The Herald

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