#WCW : Chiedza La-Linda Mgumba
Who is La-Linda?
Chiedza La-Linda Mgumba is a lecturer at Lupane State University teaching Forest Resources and Wildlife Resources Management and conducting research in conservation
Who is your inspiration and what motivates you to do this job?
My inspiration is my late grandfather he was a conservationist at heart and in practice even though he never studied conservation a day in his life, he taught me to be kind to nature and take care of it because when you love nature it loves you back
How do you balance work and social life?
Work-social life balance isn't always easy and more often than not work takes up most of my time so the best solution for me is to create my social life around work, I do a lot of outings with Birdlife youth amongst other conservation groups, especially in Bulawayo, and since I enjoy bringing in the outdoors and learning about Biodiversity it's a win-win I get to work and play simultaneously
What are the most exciting and most challenging experiences of your work?
The most exciting experience at work is working with people - somehow ecologists have their own kind of crazy character which is really fun, especially considering that these same people are so passionate about conservation it is infectious this all includes students professionals, and regular tree huggers. Another exciting part is quite the opposite of the first which is working with Wildlife, I mean who gets tired of Wildlife it's refreshing and it's a marvel people travel just to see Wildlife and I get to work with it, Jackpot!!
Challenges- people don't always see value in conservation and it's hard to be in a field where you always have to explain yourself. There is a lot of discomfort associated with being a woman in a male-dominated field.
What are the challenges being faced by women in conservation and what can be done to address them?
Lack of respect for women makes it hard for them to perform their duties especially when they're in managerial positions because there is little cooperation from colleagues (solution-
better staff training at the organizational level). The physical environment can be a little tough for women because there is a lot of strenuous activity (solution- students should be exposed to such activities while in school, or should be integrated into their learning experience-the late Professor Mundy implemented this quite well). Sexual harassment in the workplace is mainly because the field is male-dominated and mostly based in isolated places such as within national parks away from society. This leads to some men feeling entitled to the intimacy of the few women that are there and they force themselves on these women (solution- put in place very tough penalties for sexual harassment but more importantly have periodic workshops/talks with all staff about what sexual harassment is and how and what company policy says about it, I say this because some women don't know they're being harassed and some men think they can get away with it because they consider it acceptable behavior or don't know that they're penalties for it.
Advice to aspiring conservationists
Go for it it's fun it's rewarding and you're making a nice impact than you think. There is room for you in this field and don't shy away from doing exactly what you're passionate about I mean there's an entomologist out there whose life's work is studying cockroaches so whatever you want to do, do that. This field just like any isn't without challenges, be prepared for them but don't let them bring you down, they're inevitable lessons so learn from them.
Do you think a mentorship program can be a good tool to motivate more young women to take up conservation as a career?
Would you take up some time to mentor a young person given an opportunity?
I believe I already do this given the nature of my job as a lecturer
Since it's women's month kindly share a message for all women out there
You are enough. You are occupying space on earth for a good reason, make your mark by being unapologetically you after all you're the most qualified for the position of being you.
What is your favorite animal?
I'm torn between a Zebra and a Southern crowned crane