Betty Chishava

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1999
Chipo Chedu


This profile was prepared when Betty Chishava was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Women who are childless are left to suffer the hardships of ostracism and intense prejudice on their own. They have never organized, partly because most have internalized a debilitating shame that leads them to withdraw from the public eye. Betty has founded Chipo Chedu (which means “my own gift”) to help these women organize and fight the layers of prejudice that leads to their alienation.
Betty’s work begins with a comprehensive needs assessment of the sort that has never been conducted: all the data accumulated so far comes from census studies or sparse individual narratives. Betty and her Chipo Chedu society are conducting assessment workshops in rural communities that canvass the attitudes of men and women, chiefs and medics, and then begins to work with these various groups to expose and discuss prejudice. She has also worked with the national media to launch a campaign against such prejudice.
Finally, she provides a range of services previously unavailable to infertile women, including skills training and medical referrals that help them make sense of their condition and give them the freedom to flourish on their own (usually once they have been expelled from their families). The Chipo Chedu society is quickly evolving into a nation-wide initiative with a wide network of volunteers and with its own income generating strategy.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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