Each Wednesday, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrates women and their accomplishments. This Wednesday, UNIC Windhoek celebrates Diana Ndimbira, the Communications Officer for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Namibia.
In an interview with UNIC Windhoek, Diana shares her passion to bring about change, emphasizes the importance of communication in achieving gender equality and reminds young girls that their dreams are valid. Check it out!
1.) Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
Well, I am a 29 year old African woman with big dreams, not just for myself but for my continent. I am a journalist by profession and currently work in communications for the United Nations in Namibia. Anyone who knew me as child will not be surprised by my choice in career, as I was quite the chatter box, to be fair that hasn’t really changed. I love acquiring new skills, and learning about different cultures and people. I am passionate about bringing positive change to people’s lives and believe we need to constantly challenge ourselves, in order to become better versions of ourselves.
2.) What challenges have you come across, if any, because of your gender throughout your career?
I would have to say the different assumptions your male counterparts in the workplace have, the second you walk into a boardroom. For example, presuming that you are there to take the minutes, get coffee, or at the very least sit in silence and not dare voice your opinion during discussions. Irrespective of the fact that I could be as qualified, experienced and as busy as the male colleagues, someone will always try to shift the trivial/ time consuming tasks my way. My challenge has never been getting a seat at the table, it’s been fighting for the seat I would like to occupy.
3.) What are your thoughts on women’s empowerment, and why it is important?
I believe empowering women is a process that should be specific and tailor made for women from all walks of life. Working in development has taught me that as much as I might prioritize equal opportunity in the work place, another young woman on the African continent just wants to be able to choose when she gets married and to whom. My definition of empowerment is being given the option to choose. My hope is that we are moving towards a world where all women have the option to climb the corporate ladder or not, to get married and have children or not, and to have access to the best education and financing to pursue a life they have chosen for themselves.
4.) Why is communication important in the promotion of gender equality and the work of the United Nations in Namibia?
Communication is an integral part of development, partly for the sake of advocacy, but more importantly as a means to prevent further potential acts of gender inequality. The various UN agencies in Namibia have a number ranging gender programmes they carry out, in support of the Government’s efforts. My favorite is gender responsive budgeting, which ensures that fiscal resources are generated and allocated in a way that affects women and men equitably. Communication is a very important tool which should be used to both educate our women and to hold governments account. We should also never forget to tell the good stories, Namibia has great stories to tell when it comes to either gender parity in parliament, or even the fact that of the four most senior positions in Government, two are held by women. Communication can also be used as a way to celebrate achievements.
5.) What is your advice to girls following their dreams?
Just that follow your dreams! Not the words of discouragement, the harsh realities at times, or even the negative voices in your head. Chase after your dreams with every ounce of energy, with great discipline and have an unwavering spirit. A good friend of mine loves saying, “Diana our dreams are valid!” Often we have these big dreams, and later convince ourselves that they are too ambitious or just plain unrealistic. To all the young ladies who like myself are currently in the pursuit of their ‘big’ dreams, if you didn’t already know, then I would like to tell you, that your dreams are valid!
6.) What is your motto in life?
It’s borrowed, from Alan Kulwicki, “Work to become, not to acquire”.