Activist and national co-ordinator of Women of Zimbabwe Arise! (WOZA), a human rights pressure group formed in 2003.
Working primarily in:
Description of Work:
Since taking a leadership role in the organization with fellow Zimbabwean Magodonga Mahlangu, Williams has been the target of police threats and beatings, and has served numerous jail sentences in Zimbabwe's high security prisons for leading peaceful WOZA demonstrations.
In prison, both women were often denied basic physical needs as well as access to their lawyers, their families and were likely ill treated and tortured.
WOZA stands for Women of Zimbabwe Arise, and is also an acronym for the Ndebele word "come forward." Its mission is to:
* Provide women, from all walks of life, with a united voice to speak out on issues affecting their day-to-day lives.
* Empower female leadership that will lead community involvement in pressing for solutions to the current crisis.
* Encourage women to stand up for their rights and freedoms.
* Lobby and advocate on those issues affecting women and their families.
WOZA works to "create space to allow Zimbabweans to articulate issues they may be too fearful to raise alone" and "has conducted over 50 protests in its three-year existence and over 2,500 women have spent time in police custody, many more than once and most for 48 hours or more."
In 2006, WOZA created a brother organization, MOZA, Men of Zimbabwe Arise, and reports that this wing is growing steadily as well.
Williams was recognized for her civil disobedience in 2007, when she received U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's International Women of Courage Award for Africa. Amnesty International has also recognized Williams for her leadership and courage.
Though the WOZA is largely underground - it has no office and its members take tremendous security precautions - it is still very active, even in the current situation.
(At a Glance)
Place of Origin: Zimbabwe