Zimbabwe-born academic Dr Tererai Trent, who is based in the United States, has been named among the World’s Top 10 Most Inspiring Women “Sculpted for Equal Rights” and will have her life-size bronze statue erected at the Rockefeller Centre in New York City on August 26 during the launch of Statues of Equality.
The sculpture is in honour of her role in promoting equality and empowerment for girls and women.
It will stand alongside those of other eminent women who have received the same honour, notably Oprah Winfrey, Pink, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, Cate Blanchett, Janet Mock, Tracy Dyson, Cheryl Strayed and Gabby Douglas.
Dr Trent announced the development on her Twitter handle.
“Statues of Equality is set to launch in New York City — please allow me to brag. I am incredibly honoured to be standing among the World’s Top 10 Most Inspiring Women ‘Sculpted for Equal Rights’! Can you believe this rural Zimbabwean girl and just looking back where I came from to think I will have a life-size statue standing in the streets of NYC! My goodness! The list includes Oprah Winfrey, Pink, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, Cate
Blanchett, Janet Mock, Tracy Dyson, Cheryl Strayed and Gabby Douglas.
“The Statues for Equality are cast in bronze and installed near New York City’s iconic Rockefeller Centre. Come August 26 and celebrate the empowerment women and big dreams! #StatuesForEquality,” she said
Dr Trent was born in Zvipani Village in Karoi District, Mashonaland West Province in 1965. She was not allowed to go to her local school, Matau Primary School, as a child due to poverty as well as being female, although her brother Tinashe, an indifferent student, was given the opportunity to attend.
In 1991, Jo Luck from Heifer International visited her village and asked every woman about her greatest dream. Dr Trent said she wanted to go to America and get a bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s and eventually a PhD.
Encouraged by her mother, Dr Trent wrote down these dreams, put the paper in a scrap of tin, and buried it. In 1998, she moved to Oklahoma with her husband and their five children.
Three years later, she earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education and her master’s degree in 2003.
In December 2009, she earned her doctorate from Western Michigan University; her thesis looked at HIV/AIDS prevention programs for women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa.
Her life story was featured in the book Half the Sky, and in an excerpt of that book published by The New York Times Magazine.
Subsequently, Oprah Winfrey ran a segment on Tererai in the Oprah episode concerning the book Half the Sky.
Since earning her PhD in 2009, Dr Trent obtained a two-year commitment to work with Heifer International (which paid for her PhD). Also in 2009, she founded the Tinogona Foundation, later renamed Tererai Trent International, which has built several schools in Zimbabwe.
In 2013, she received Masters in Public Health (Epidemiology) from University of California, Berkeley from University of California, Berkeley.
In May 2011, Oprah Winfrey revealed that Dr Trent was her all-time favourite guest, and donated US$1,5 million to build her own school in Karoi, which was completed in 2014.
In 2015, Dr Trent published a children’s book about her own life called The Girl who Buried her Dreams in a Can, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.
Her 2017 self-help book, The Awakened Woman: Remembering & Igniting Our Sacred Dreams, with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey, was named the Outstanding Literary Work, Instructional at the 49th NAACP Image Awards.
She has been an adjunct professor in Monitoring and Evaluation in Global Health at Drexel University since 2013.