Drivers of Change: Mulenga Kateule – Kitwe COE

Date: October 1, 2020
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“I believe that being gender aware helps to determine how social norms and power structures impact the lives of men and women. I became gender aware after I was elected as councillor in my ward. I realized that very few women take up positions in politics for fear of being defeated by men. Hence I was challenged by this and wanted to lead by example and inspire other fellow women to take up such roles. I am made to believe that both men and women should have equal opportunities.”

Before I joined politics, I became a member of the Girls Brigade at my church (the United Church of Zambia, Kitwe), little did I know that I started practicing leadership as I was chosen as a Girl’s Captain for the group. The church appreciated my works and I chosen to be a leader at district level. During this time, I got a chance to physically meet the late Honourable Minister of Gender, Ms. Kalima, she encouraged me to join politics and I really got inspired such that I decided to become a member of the Patriotic Front, the current Government then I became chairperson of the ward in my community and upon delivering well, I was overwhelmingly supported by women to become the councillor of the ward and I won.

I was chosen among my fellow councillors to become the Gender Champion for the council and I welcomed this appointment and since then, I have developed so much interest in gender works and striving to bring about change in this area and really working hard to mobilise girl child to practice their rights so that come 2030, we reach a target of 50-50 gender representation in parliament.

During my community visitations, I was approached by a young girl who asked me to spare some time with me as she needed to have a chat. After I finished addressing the community members, I decided to have a talk with her, she narrated her story to me. Apparently this girl came from a poor family and she was chased of school due to non-payment of examination fees. She asked me to assist her pay exam fees and before I could assist I requested if I could visit her family before I rendered any help. From my busy schedule, I spared some time to go and visit her and the family. I was deeply touched with what I found, the living conditions were so bad and they had no source of income, the only source of income was selling water on the streets and her young brother did this selling of water. Bother her parents are dead and she stayed with her elderly grandmother. I managed to pay her exam fees and she wrote her exams, am glad to say that she passed her exams and shes now doing her nursing programme in her second year.

To positively impact the lives of people and help women and girls live better lives. I also love to share information in my community on gender issues and other issues that affect their day to day lives. I am making a difference in my society by helping people in need and ensuring that there is development in my ward.

I reach out to churches, homes, schools, communities and i train community members of all age groups on gender related issues, like gender equality, women empowerment and gender based violence among others. i usually carry out this when i am invited at places like schools,churches,communities and during my community visitations.

It has changed my life because i am able to mingle with the great men and i have built self image, self esteem and I am now knowledgeable. I am able to speak in public and i have become a source of hope to others. I receive alot of support from the council in my work and work closely with the Gender Focal Point Person, District AIDS Coordinating Advisor.

i have learned to balance up both boys and girls in terms of education, even when my husband is not around, i am able to sort out issues at home.

I am gender sensitive, i always take into account the impact of policies and programmes on men and women, boys and girls trying to mitigate negative consequences. This happens when i call for meetings, i always ensure that there is equal representation/ participation from both men and women. I managed to help three women and two men get cleaning jobs at the council. They are still working for the council.

It has brought about equal participation even though there are few women represented in policy making. They can share the same responsibilities, there is unity and harmony. and we believe that no one is above the other.

Being gender aware makes it easy for me to take into account the different needs and interests of both men and women, Gender is a wide topic. I have learned that when you are gender aware you manage your life ,your family, workmates and neighbours. I ensure i share all information i get regarding gender and this has opened my understanding and dealings in gender issues. Whatever i learn i teach, is what i teach. I have come to know that very few people are gender aware hence the need to keep disseminating information to people.

I have come to love and enjoy my works in gender, it is very interesting and i want to reach out to all age groups through community meetings, radio programmes, local and international events, school clubs, churches among others. I want to be sharing knowledge to all and empower women if need be as statistics show that most women live in poverty. Gender discrimination is still happening and its one of the issues i would love to work on. It wont be an easy job i know but through hard work and determination, i believe i impact change in the lives of people.