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Zimbabwean scholar Tererai Trent among the first ten life-size statues erected in New York to honour women championing gender equality

Tererai Trent is among ten women including media mogul Oprah Winfrey, conservationist Jane Goodall, activist Janet Mock and chemist Tracy Dyson whose statues have been unveiled in New York. The women are being honoured for their contributions towards gender equality by Statues For Equality

Founders of Statues for Equality, prominent Australian artists Gillie and Marc Schattner aim to balance gender representation in public art around the world and honour women’s contributions to society. According to the organisation less than 3% of statues are female in New York followed by Sydney and London following suit with 4% and 3% respectively.

“In fact, there are more statues called John in the UK than there are of historical women,” the website noted.

According to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, the largest gender disparities are on political empowerment, which today maintains a gap of 77.1% and economic participation and opportunity gap which is the second largest at 41.9%,

The report further details that although many countries have achieved important milestones towards gender parity across education, health, economic and political systems, there remains much to be done. On the other hand, the 2018 analysis also warns about the possible emergence of new gender gaps in advanced technologies, such as the risks associated with emerging gender gaps in Artificial Intelligence-related skills.

Sculpted for equal rights

The husband and wife duo started by creating ten larger than life statues of inspirational women that were unveiled in New York city under the theme “Sculpted for Equal Rights” on Women’s Equality Day which falls on the August 26th.

The women who were voted for by the public were selected for their work championing gender equality. They are: Oprah Winfrey, P!nk, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, Cate Blanchett, Tererai Trent, Janet Mock, Tracy Dyson, Cheryl Strayed and Gabby Douglas.

The initiative is now worldwide, with projects in many different countries, including Australia the UK and the US. Gillie and Marc are keen that the sculptures are representative of all women.

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“We hope that as the project expands, it will include a broader diversity of race, class, ability, sexual orientation and gender expression,” says Gillie.

They are asking the public to again nominate the next women that they think deserve the recognition of being immortalized in bronze!

“In order to truly honor the cause, it was crucial we cast the statues in bronze,” explains Marc, “they will live on, much like the statue itself, beyond your lifetime and the lives of your contemporaries.”

Dr. Tererai Trent

Zimbabwean humanitarian, scholar, educator, and author, Dr Tererai Trent is one of the world’s most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment.

According to her profile, Dr. Trent was born in Zimbabwe when poverty, war, and traditional women’s roles denied women the opportunity to attend school. Despite this she secretly taught herself to read, and later wrote her dreams, which included getting a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s, and a PhD.

Photo: Tererai Trent International Foundation

She told the BBC that, when the time came for children to go to school, it was Ms Trent’s brother who went, not her.

“It was a strategic decision to educate boys. Parents were looking at – of these two genders – who is more likely to get employed in the factories and mines and bring money home?”

But seeing her brother’s schoolbooks sparked something in her. “I was fired up. I really wanted to be able to read, seeing these pictures and these words.” she continued

Even after becoming a child bride who had three children by the time she was eighteen, Trent eventually earned multiple degrees, and a prominent global platform. A platform where she has interacted with world leaders and international businesses and audiences to advocate for universal access to quality education.

She has published two books, won the 2018 NAACP Award for Outstanding Literary Work, and improved education for over 6,000 children.

The Statues for Equality website called her, “A true inspiration, Trent’s motto is “Tinogona”, which means “It is achievable!”

Each woman chose their own flower to reflect themselves. Trent’s flower is a beautiful yet durable flame lily. A flower that the organisations website says is, “An incredible climbing flower, flame lilies can reach a height of almost 10 feet. As well as being able to rise and thrive in all conditions, flame lilies also share Trent’s home of Zimbabwe where they are the national flower.”

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