The short film may be more powerful than expected. For me, it speaks volumes, as it clearly points out the reason this works. It is because it has empowered women. It has given them more than just a job. It has empowered them to change the culture. And the following examples are just some of the ways women are embracing the opportunities before them.

When reading some of their stories, it is why the cultural norms have kept them from progressing. Women were not allowed a voice. Now they are the rock stars of their communities. One team calls themselves the Black Mambos. These are groups of proud “sisters-in-arms” who know they are the future they create here and now. Using both brawn and brains, they are redifining the culture they want for their children.


Another way Zimbabwe is changing the face of their future is by supporting women in sports. Zimbabwe’s women’s soccer players are Mighty Warriors indeed.

The members of the Zimbabwe women’s soccer team hold down day jobs when they are not moonlighting as the Mighty Warriors.

Captain Felistas Muzongondi, a 30-year-old forward who plays club soccer for the Mwenezana Queens, is a clerical worker with a sugar manufacturer. Coach Shadreck Mlauzi is a physical education teacher and part-time national team coach.

Twelve members of the 18-woman Zimbabwe roster play for club teams that are affiliated with their work: the Flame Lily Queens are corrections officers while the Black Rhinos represent the army and the Blue Swallows Queens are the air force.

And in the heart of Africa, another kind of warrior was born. She has become known as the “Queen of Katwe.” Her story is based on the vibrant true life events which took her from the streets of rural Uganda, where she sold corn, to an acclaim chess champ, all by a chance encounter. As a 9-year-old, Phiona Mutesi is an inspiration to millions, and especially to girls in a nation where girls are particularly marginalized.

It is a very Disney movie in that it centers around a family and has a happy ending. But it is a very un-Disney story in that it unblinkingly examines the poverty, violence, and racism its protagonists face every day. It is, in the words of its director, “a radical film for Disney in many ways. … It has beauty and barbarity side-by-side.”

Queen of Katwe is a true story instead of a fictional story. But it’s also a story told from a female perspective and a female-empowered point-of-view. And it was made with and by extremely strong women. And it’s set in a different place and a different culture. All of those things add to inclusive storytelling. 

Phiona Mutesi

Zimbabwe Women Environmental Warriors and The Queen of Katwe

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