Zimbabwe's first black female newspaper editor and daily news columnist, Edna Machirori, has been awarded this year's International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) Lifetime Achievement Award, a recognition that has been hailed by female journalists who work under the tough male dominated environment in Zimbabwe.
The Foundation, which honours women journalists from around the world each year, also announced the names of three journalists who won the 2013 Courage in Journalism Awards which went to reporters working under difficult conditions in Afghanistan, Syria and Cambodia.
An ecstatic Machirori, who has been working in the media field for more than 40 years, told SW Radio Africa she is "very humbled" by the recognition. "They say a prophet is without honour in his own country and I am very touched that it is foreigners who have seen it fit to give me this award."
The IWMF said as a woman journalist in post-colonial Zimbabwe, Machirori rose through the ranks of several newspapers, including The Chronicle and The Financial Gazette, in spite of a deeply patriarchal culture.
"As one of the first women in Zimbabwean media and as the first black female editor of a newspaper in Zimbabwe, Machirori represented unprecedented achievement for women finding their place in a post-colonial landscape. She has acted as a mentor to other women throughout her career and has faced down critics of her incisive reporting.
"Machirori started her work in journalism in 1963 as a cadet reporter for the African Daily News, a nationalist newspaper based in Harare (then Salisbury, under colonial rule), after sending the paper "letters to the editor" while she was in high school. During her early years with the African Daily News, Machirori was the only woman on the staff at any level. Later, she occupied editing positions at The Chronicle and The Financial Gazette," the IWMF said in a statement Friday.
Machirori was news editor when in 1988 The Chronicle published the Willowgate scandal, an investigation into corruption among high-level members of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Daily News Features editor Thelma Chikwanha said this is a befitting award for Machirori, who has held the torch for female journalists who find it tough to rise through the ranks in a male dominated newsroom. "I am very proud of her achievement. She is the very first female editor in this country to edit a title on her own.
"I am so encouraged as it is difficult to work in the media especially as a woman... There is still a feeling that there are certain positions for men and certain positions which are meant for women. Women will either hold positions like Features Editor, Deputy News Editor or Community Affairs Editor," Chikwanha said.
She said it has not been an easy road for Machirori, who for many years worked under people she had groomed in the newsroom. Chikwanha said Machirori's IWMF recognition gives journalists hope that even though they are not honoured back home in Zimbabwe their work is still appreciated elsewhere.
Machirori will be travelling to the US for the award ceremony in October. She is the second Zimbabwean to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, following journalist Peta Thornycroft in 2007. Studio 7's Sandra Nyaira is a recipient of the 2002 Courage in Journalism Award.