The 2nd of November will forever symbolise the manifestation of a 6-year-old dream for Bianca Mari, who tried for years to make her dream of honouring women a reality.
“I’ve actually been trying to do this since 2012, but it hasn’t been working out, ” she says.
Although women are occasionally honoured through award ceremonies, UK based Zimbabwean Mari noticed a tendency to recognize the same prominent faces, whilst sidelining women making a difference in their communities out of the public eye.
“The issue for me was when I looked at the awards we have in Zimbabwe and things that we celebrate, it appeared that the awards would go to people that have already made it. So for me, I wanted to shine a light on those young women who are doing fantastic and amazing things, but we don’t celebrate or put in the spotlight,” says Mari.
This is how the idea of the Shero Awards Gala was born. True to the definition of ‘unsung’, the room was full of unapplauded female achievers; each with an inspiring story to share and that was Mari’s goal.
“Shero means a girl hero, a heroine,” says Mari affectionately in her opening speech.
A few months prior, Mari, a well-being specialist, opened up the nomination platform and received profiles of numerous women doing groundbreaking work in their spheres of influence. It was important for Mari to align her passion for fashion and wellness in curating the awards with mentorship having realized that this was part of her life purpose.
“In the UK, I had been doing a few beauty pageants and what I actually noticed was that a few girls would come, and it would turn into a coaching, empowerment and mentoring session,” she says.
The categories for the inaugural awards held at The Meikles Hotel in Harare included The Art Category, The Girl Boss Award, The Academic Excellence Award, The Mamapreneur Award honouring enterprising mothers, The Charity Award and a surprise category The Gogo Shero Award honouring an elderly woman making a difference in her community.
MC for the evening Vickie Mlilo opened the evening with a light-hearted dance challenge and introduced Mari and the guests of honour who included The Turkish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E Hakan Kivanç, The Mayor of Harare His Worship Herbert Gomba, Dr Mba of the Cancer Clinic, Moira Ngaru, Executive Director of Proweb Zimbabwe, Ms Mashangwa, Director of Gender at the Ministry of Women Affairs, Ms Barbra Muyengwa, Marketing Director of the Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank and Ms Rachel J, CEO of Jarach Investments.
We put together a highlights video of the evening.