People Champion Spotlight: Gift Govere

People for 2030 is fortunate to have some very talented People Champions who embody and inspire change in their respective Country Offices. The Spotlight series aims to highlight them and their efforts. With each Bulletin, we will be featuring an interview with the hope that reading their story motivates our readers as much as collaborating with them energizes us.

For this People Champion Spotlight, we spoke to Gift Govere, UNDP Zimbabwe. Gift has been working at UNDP since 2019 — first as a United Nations Volunteer and, as of May 2022, as a Disability and Inclusion Programme Analyst. Gift embodies #FutureSmartUNDP in his work and thought process, and, with these five questions we shine a light on his journey so far.

Q1. What initially drew you to UNDP and how has your career evolved over the years?

I’m a social scientist by profession. My background is in sociology and social anthropology from the University of Zimbabwe with prior experience in research specifically on development issues. So, most of my life was spent in academia and actually in 2019 when I applied for a United Nations Volunteer (UNV) position at UNDP, I was working as a teaching assistant at the University of Zimbabwe. I enjoyed teaching, doing research, and I was okay with this being my lifelong career. But then I got the chance to work as a United Nations Volunteer (UNV).

As a United Nations Volunteer, my work focused on disability rights and issues. In May 2022, I made the transition from UNV to Disability and Inclusion Programme Analyst. That’s the thing about UNDP, within just 3 years, I have been able to advance in my career and even change roles. They truly created an environment for me to effectively participate and meaningfully contribute through the work that I do. That makes me feel encouraged and even more challenged to keep going and aim for more professional growth.

Q2. What has been your favourite project in UNDP and why?

It goes without saying that within UNDP and broadly within the UN, there is an aspect of recognizing diversity and inclusion as the key elements of the work we do.

Therefore, my favourite project is currently ongoing and one where I believe we walk the talk by addressing the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ through promoting the rights and inclusion of marginalized groups. The project is focusing on marginalized women and girls who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as women living with HIV and AIDS.

This project has enabled UNDP to reflect on itself to say, “Are we inclusive ourselves before we even talk of inclusion out there? Are we addressing the barriers that contribute to discrimination within the UN system or UNDP before we even talk about discrimination and barriers out there?” For me these have been really fulfilling projects because I have been able to contribute to addressing discrimination and inclusion issues.

Q3. What motivated you to become a People Champion?

The first thing that caught my eye was the People Strategy. When I was going through it, I realized that this was a progressive strategy that was going to enhance the work of UNDP. It is inward looking and seeks to take care of our personnel and enhance their careers. Looking at the strategy, from a personal perspective, I also saw that it was focusing a lot on diversity and inclusion and so I felt it was a starting point towards the future UNDP that we envisage.

So, when the People Champion call went out, I was up for it. Plus when I was a UNV, I had previously been a part of a People for 2030 taskforce in Phase 1, which included such a diverse group with representation across different levels and contract types. It was an empowering taskforce to be part of. People for 2030 provided a platform where we could discuss various issues and felt empowered to make a contribution. Therefore, being a People Champion for the next three years is going to give me the opportunity to further what has already been established and contribute to the future UNDP we want.

Q4. How do you plan on engaging colleagues in your Country Office in line with People for 2030?

Well, this might come across as a cliché, but the strategy is a shared responsibility between each and every one of us. So, we have been keen to ensure we engage, inform and update everyone in the Office in everything we do. We also need to prioritize the focus areas. Despite this being a progressive strategy, we need to pick what will work in Zimbabwe and work on it. Another issue is popularizing the strategy. You don’t want it to be an elitist strategy where only a few people know of it and those that are in lower levels in terms of contractual modalities, or experience with the organization are not fully involved, aware or sensitized about the strategy. Therefore, moving forward these are some of the key elements we will factor in and create an action plan just as we did in Phase 1 to ensure we effectively engage our colleagues.

Q5. Who is Gift when he is not working at UNDP?

Besides work, I am just a quiet individual who enjoys video games, watching movies, and reading books. That’s me besides the work. But at times, because I’m still young and have many goals for the future, during the weekends sometimes you can find me doing courses and attending trainings online. I am also in the process of kickstarting my PhD journey. So, this is a demanding timeframe for me, but I take it all in stride.

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