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#WCW: Samantha Sinikiwe Sithole

By Tapiwa Prosper Chimbadzwa

Who is Samantha Sinikiwe Sithole ?

Samantha is a young Zimbabwean woman enrolled in a PhD Programme at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. She also works as a doctorate assistant, helping with research projects and instructing students. She is completing her fieldwork in South Africa at Kruger National Park with a focus on youth in conservation, their role in conservation, and how they have been participating in conservation. She also serves on the advisory council for Share Screen Africa, a division of Leadership for Conservation in Africa.

Question: Who is your inspiration and what motivates you to do this job ?

Answer : The work done by organizations to assist local communities develop their capacity for managing natural resources inspires me. I am motivated by the need to enable African people to protect their animal resources in a manner that is consistent with their cultural practices. Imparting an African centered system of conserving nature to the future generations

Hiking at the Zermatt 5 lakes hiking trail in Switzerland. In the background is the Matterhorn - the most iconic and photographed Swiss mountain peak.

Question : How do you balance work and social life ?

Answer: Living and working in Switzerland has helped me maintain a balance between my work and social life. Culturally, they hold the view that work should end when you leave the office and that your priorities should shift to your family and well-being once you return home. So living there has aided in maintaining this equilibrium for me. I've always made an effort to avoid working unless it is urgent and to make time for spending with my friends, going hiking, and occasionally spending time by myself.

Attending the IUCN CONGRESS 2021 and networking and meeting other conservationists from around the world in Marseilles France

Question: What are the most exciting and most challenging experiences of your work. ?

Answer : The traveling and meeting various people from different backgrounds who share my values for nature and natural resources governance. Just getting to hear their stories and how similar they are to my experiences it just has been mind blowing. This shows the need to collaborate and network as to address some of the problems we are faced with in the conservation field.

The major challenge was focusing my research so that i can be effective in addressing the issues being faced within the conservation field.

Question: What are the challenges being faced by women in conservation ?

Answer : The gendered component of conservation is that it is and has always been a male-dominated field. It has been challenging for women to break into this field because most conservation terrain is unfriendly to women. These difficulties limit what women are able to accomplish compared to what males can. Since women often perform additional unpaid labor, this problem of unpaid and unrecognized labor presents another obstacle for them. Additionally women are underrepresented at the decision-making table.

I do believe that finding a practical answer to the problems that women are experiencing in conservation requires ongoing education and understanding of these challenges.

Advice to aspiring conservationists

Conservation is not a one sided coin, there are a lot of entry points in the sector. Hence there is need for one to explore the field, choose what you're passionate about. Think widely and don't limit yourself. Most importantly conservation needs passion and drive.

Question : Do you think a mentorship program can be a good tool to motivate more young woman to take up conservation as a career ?

Answer : Mentorship will be good to motivate young people to take conservation as a career especially women . This allows for the mentee to see from the experience of a mentor and get to learn . Also it creates room for knowledge sharing between the mentor and the mentee which creates a space for mutual growth between the two.

Question : Would you take up some time to mentor a young person given an opportunity ?

Answer : I would love to mentor a young women given a chance .

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