Marriage, motherhood block female artists

HARARE - Renowned novelist Joyce Jenje-Makwenda an active female artiste has said marriage and motherhood are stumbling blocks to female entertainers’ advancement.

Makwenda who is also a film and music producer said this while addressing female artists at a workshop funded by Hivos and the Norwegian Embassy at the Book Café in Harare.

“Motherhood and marriage takes away the time of a female artiste.

“When a woman is pregnant or married she is not allowed to be on stage performing,” she said.

What surprises me is in our culture women go to the fields ploughing or harvesting while they are pregnant but today they are not allowed to perform on stage or go to work,” added Makwenda.

She further said leaving a baby home while going to work is taboo in the African culture.

“I have seen women losing their jobs once they got pregnant. It is terrible that because a woman is pregnant she is not allowed to go work,” said Makwenda.

The artists discussed problems faced by women in showbiz on and off the stage.  

“Women in theatre find themselves vulnerable to their male audience as some of these patrons do not know how to draw a line between artistes and the person. Some comments that come from the audience are not encouraging at all. They often pass personal comments rather than those specific to the performance,” she said.

Other female artists who attended the workshop also complained that men often ask for sexual favours after a performance.

“Female theatre artistes face challenges as often after a performance, men would want to go out with her — to go and sleep with her,” said Makwenda.

Priscilla Ncube former artistic director of Amakhosi Cultural Centre said being a female in the theatre industry is dreadful as people do not respect women.

Ncube established her own film academy called Ibhayiskopo Film Project which strives to be world class.
The women-driven project centres on nurturing women and girls who have passion for film.

“Gender discrimination in the arts field has made me come up with the film project ibhayisikopo. We train 10-20 students per year who are mostly women,” she said.

Ncube is a typical un-assuming, down to earth role model for young women who aspire to venture into the arts, particularly the film sector in Zimbabwe.

Amongst the participants were also Marian Kunonga and Prudence Mbofana, and Erica Gwetai.

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