We are delighted to welcome Dr Marcia Mutambara, who has joined HEARD as a post-doctoral research fellow. Mutambara recently graduated with her PhD in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, focusing on gender, sexuality, migration and human security. She also holds undergraduate qualifications in International Relations and Political Science.

“I have always had an interest in looking at issues related to gender,” she said. Mutambara is part of HEARD’s newly formed gender-based violence (GBV) research cluster, headed by Programme Leader for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Dr Tamaryn Crankshaw. Visiting Professor, Jane Freedman, from the Université Paris 8 who is a specialist in GBV is currently working with the team on several projects, including a study aimed at understanding the intersections of risk and vulnerability for GBV amongst refugee and migrant women, as part of a bilateral grant between UKZN and Paris 8.

Mutambara, whose PhD focused on experiences of xenophobia and GBV amongst migrant Zimbabwean women in South Africa, shares some of the challenges migrant women face when entering a new country. “I went through the system myself, so I know the frustrations. But trying to navigate the formalities and bureaucracy- as cumbersome as it was- is secondary when one starts delving into the struggles of migrant women. From the circumstances which forced them to move from their home countries, to the challenges and- if she doesn’t have papers- the dangers, of crossing the border.” Once in South Africa migrant and refugee women often find themselves in double jeopardy, because they are women and because they are migrants, said Mutambara. “We are trying to understand the experiences and lived realities of these women, with the end goal of informing policy which will really assist with the challenges they face,” she said.

As part of the GBV cluster, she hopes to contribute to this important project and continue to grow as a scholar and strengthen her writing skills. “I am excited to sharpen my skills and get to the high level of HEARD research and publications while working on these important issues in Africa,” she said.