US, ZIM back women in Photography

The Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers (ZAFP) offcially launched with a glamorous exhibition featuring the works of 14 members. The association has a membership of just over 25 professional photographers- a mix of event photographers, photojournalists and students.

The U.S. Embassy and other partners funded the launch.

“We are pleased to have played a small role because what you have done is very important. You are creating a network, a platform, and an open, welcoming space for more women photographers to develop into the profession,” said Sharon Hudson-Dean, Counselor for Public A airs at the United States Embassy in Harare.

The United States Embassy has since 2011 supported empowerment of women in the media through the Women Journalists Mentoring Program (WJMP) designed to develop professional and leadership skills among female journalists. Among the founders of the Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers is WJMP graduate Angela Jimu, who is also a member of the ZAFP executive committee. Other directors are Davina Jogi (President), Cynthia Matonhodze and award-winning photojournalist Nancy Mteki.

ZAPF founding President Davina Jogi said the launch of the association is the result of a 2011 meeting by female photographers, in which they shared experiences and discussed ways to raise the standard of professionalism in the photographic industry in Zimbabwe.

”We realised that, although there were platforms for journalists, there was no support network for photographers, no community and very little unity… and the only ones we could blame were ourselves,” she said. Jogi also said the association will network, train, and advocate as well as provide a platform for members to exhibit, publish their work, and undertake joint projects.

The launch was attended by members of the media and government o cials, including the Education, Sports and Culture Minister David Coltart and Guest of Honor Jessie Majome, Deputy Minister of Gender and Community A airs.

Honorable Majome said the launch of the association had rede ned the phrase “looking at the world with a gender lens” and encouraged members to take advantage of the new guarantees provided for in the draft constitution that has sailed through both houses of parliament.

“Access to information and freedom of the media will guarantee that all journalists and photographers are free to express themselves and collect information, including taking pictures and interpreting the world as they see it without fear of needless repercussions,” said the Deputy Minister.

“I am really excited,” said Jimu. “It has been a long road (and) we hope to be able to achieve all the things that will improve the photographic industry, especially among women.” ZAFP’s current two-week exhibition, “Shutter Opener”, features the works of 14 ZAFP members. It is open to the public until Friday, May 24th at 15 Princess Drive
in Newlands, from 10am to 6pm daily.