Co- Founder & Executive Director, Green Active Citizens Trust (GACT)
Maureen is an active global citizen who always seeks to be the change her community needs. Maureen’s early days of activism were in the labour movement where she stood for equality in the world of work calling for just and decent employment. Her experience as a labour activist strengthened her conviction to the fact that income inequalities influence inequalities in other dimensions of well-being.
Maureen currently consults for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung as a Program Facilitator for their Youth Leadership Training Program (for which she is a Fellow). This programme draws young leaders from different spheres across the Zimbabwe with a major thrust of discussing inequalities in different spheres as well as locating the role of youth towards sustainable development.
In 2016, Maureen co-founded a community-based organisation in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, called Green Active Citizens motivated by the concern that most countries, including Zimbabwe, were choosing to turn a blind eye to environmental justice in their quest for development. GACT’s main thrust is to infuse social and economic justice issues with environmental justice issues.
Maureen continues to volunteer with various organisations including the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and those that deal with youths and children such as Junior Chamber International - Zimbabwe and Tugwi Trust. She has published articles and facilitated training sessions in Africa and beyond. Through participation of a number of international events, summits and conferences such as the UNFCCC COP21, 22, 23, Maureen possesses sound experience in the policy architecture related to global governance and justice. It is her desire that she intensifies her current efforts around labour and environmental justice to ensure that our communities develop their way out of poverty without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same while creating decent jobs in the process.
Maureen envisions herself occupying an influential position in the Education departments and structures of either the International Trade Union Confederation or the International Labour Organisation and playing a critical role informing action and engagements related to labour inequalities and injustices.
As an Atlantic Fellow, I am particularly concerned with inequalities in the world of work (beyond income inequalities) with special attention on how they influence other inequalities of well-being.
Much of the debates and discussions around inequality focused on inequality as an economic phenomena and inequality as a static endpoint. While this serves as a good starting point, I strongly feel that there is need to focus on the world of work exhaustively and deliberately. Such a focus is justified by the fact that for most people, employment and its benefits thereof, has a bearing on their well-being, which comprises a set of capabilities indicating the extent of freedom individuals have in leading dignified lives.
The ILO World Employment and Social Outlook of 2017 aptly indicated that the decency and security of work has been heavily compromised due to liberalisation. Despite the rebound of global economic growth, by 3.6% in 2017, global unemployment remains elevated. Vulnerable employment was noted to be on the rise with predictions pointing towards an increased number of unemployed persons or those in precarious employment, particularly in developing nations, at above 76%. Further interrogation revealed that inequalities in labour market outcomes were still persistent with gender disparities still of particular concern. The lack of employment opportunities for youth was also noted to be another major global challenge acutely in the African context where the over 30% of the youth bulge were, on average, without a job. Importantly, gender inequalities are already established among young workers, rendering future progress in reducing gender gaps even more difficult.
It is such statistics and facts that motivated me to apply to be part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity. I am of a strong conviction that an equal labour market can result in the reduction of socio-economic inequalities and consequently help millions of people (particularly women youth and other disadvantaged groups) escape poverty. It is also my hope that I will add value to the programme by bringing this angle to the discussions based on my lived realities and experiences.
My interest in AFSEE is also for personal growth purposes. I view taking part in this programme as an opportunity to build strategic relationships, alliances and networks for future action against inequalities. This opportunity will give me a chance to learn from the other fellows and incorporate those learnings into my work.
“Putting job creation at the heart of economic policy-making and development plans will not only generate decent work opportunities but also more robust, inclusive, equal and poverty-reducing growth as articulated in SDG 8.”