IT has never been easy for the girl child to make it in the conventional “men’s world”. This woman has been through it all, and the adage that “success is not a tree to
be climbed with one’s hands in the pocket” rings true of Dr Hope Sadza, the woman at the helm of Women’s University in Zimbabwe.
Born in a family of six children to Mr Bakasa, a businessman who owned a fleet of taxis and Mrs Bakasa, who was a teacher, Sadza says she grew up in a “very loving environment which I think contributed to my love for people”.
Says Sadza: “My mother always used to tease me about my hobby of collecting friends.”
From a tender age, Sadza always wanted to be a teacher, and it did not take her long to realise her dream.
“I did my primary education at a school that still exists called Chirodzo Primary School. Incidentally after my teacher training I went back and taught at that school,” Sadza said.
“I attended Goromonzi Secondary School and then went on to Waddilove for my teacher training. My first love is teaching so I went further and did teacher training to teach secretaries in England.”
She went abroad to further her studies.
“I then went to the University of Missouri in Columbia in the United States of America where I did my first degree (BSc) and second degree (masters in Public Administration).”
“When I came back I studied for my PhD with the University of Zimbabwe. I also taught for a while at the Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka, Zambia.”
Her passion for teaching extended to assisting those financially unable to attain education.
“My dream has always been to help, particularly in the teaching field, those not economically endowed. I have always felt for the downtrodden, those who, for some reason or other, have missed out on school,” Sadza says.
“I feel that women, especially in Africa, have a raw deal. In our household every child, male or female, was treated the same but I watched with concern how other girls had to do chores and drop out of school because parents preferred to invest in male children, education-wise.”
Says Sadza: “That really hurt me and gave me the urge to want to help in changing that culture and offer the girl-child and woman the opportunity to be enlightened and educated.”
Sadza served in the public service for at least ten years before retiring to start the women’s university.
“I was introduced to commissions when I was appointed chairperson of the Parastatals Commission that is now defunct and then I served in the Public Service Commission for ten years,” Sadza said.
“I took an early retirement to realise my dream to start the Women’s University with my co-founder, Fay Chung.”
The Women’s University offers courses for mature women from the ages of 25 to 60, who missed out on school, either because of lack of finance or because they got married and were engaged in rearing families.
“We offer women a ‘second opportunity’ as we call it, to go back to school away from the ordinary university where a woman would feel like she is attending with her own child,” the veteran educationist said.
The Women’s University is “user friendly” because women can attend in the evenings, on weekends and during holidays and does not interfere much with family concerns.
There is also ample opportunity to network with other like-minded women.
The vision of empowering women is critical to their lives and that of their families, especially children.
Before the university opened, research was done to establish the most critical areas, and came up with four main fields namely:
Women are the tillers of the land, yet because of lack of education in that field, they remain poor.
Women are not in control so there needs to be some formal training so that they can fill the gap between the nurse and the doctor.
Women should be taught at an early stage the technicalities of gender issues and the sociological connotations.
This aims at empowering women who have become stuck in middle management by virtue of being female. This is a popular course. The aim is for women to rise above diploma level and get to the highest level, which is degree level.
This is Dr Hope Sadza’s dream unfolding.
Besides her busy schedule at the university, Sadza also sits on a number of boards. She chairs Rufaro Marketing and the National Art Gallery, to mention but a few.
She loves reading, knitting, cooking – but hates house work and she makes no excuses for that.
She loves travelling but at the moment she is unable to do so because of her commitment to the university. Whenever she travelled in the past, Sadza was always struck by the plight of women which she says is identical in Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Sadza says the story of women is always about lots of brains but lack of opportunity.
Her appeal is if you have any books, second hand computers which can be upgraded, they are welcome at the Women’s University.
Sadza is married and her husband is the chief executive officer of Premier Medical Aid Society. She has two children – a son aged 23 and an 11-year old daughter.