Laura Yumba Munkanta – Zambia

Laura Yumba Munkanta – Zambia

Date: May 29, 2012
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Having gender balance in decision making is every person’s dream. It takes courage and confidence to hold a high position in an institution as a woman; hard as this maybe, I am trying everything to convince the nation that what can be done by men, can also be done by women. My hopes of being heard have been raised; I am aware of Gender Based Violence and able to facilitate issues related to gender.

I am currently the Acting Director of Development Planning for Chingola Municipal Council on the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. I first met Gender Links in the year 2010 when they visited our council. The meeting included management and civic leaders; GL explained the purpose of the visit and we got interested in initiating gender activities at our institution.

My most memorable experience with GL was when we developed a gender action plan; the facilitators took us through action planning and it was a successful event, and through it, we got to know more about gender issues. We as the council signed a memorandum of understanding with GL in 2010. Through this process I came to realise that people were ignorant about gender related issues, and it was up to me to take up the challenge of interacting with the community to sensitise them on GBV.

I really appreciate working with GL; so much has changed in my life. I was not aware of any gender related issues, even though the environment we work in is so hostile for women, particularly in leadership positions. I am now so confident in my duties and more confident in decision making because the process that GL took us through was excellent. I can interact well with my fellow women, and talk about issues affecting us. I humbly give credit to GL; they have done their part in fighting gender violence, they have opened our ears and eyes on GBV, and together we shall achieve our goals.

Before the year 2010, we never used to mainstream gender in our local authority. So with the coming of GL through the Centres of Excellence, we are now able to mainstream gender related activities and especially with the issues of HIV/AIDS and gender. We are able to link the two because they go together. It has made us more aware of cross cutting issues.

I will always appreciate a woman like Faides .T. Nsofu (Gender Justice and Local Governance Facilitator) who has been instrumental. She has been assisting the council during all the stages of COE. Working with GL has enabled me to acquire skills in facilitation and gender analysis. I have also learnt to respect my fellow women more; I ensure that I make decisions that are non-discriminatory. I am able to identify their potential and help them in various areas.

It is so encouraging to see that management and civic leaders have accepted the mainstreaming of gender; they have been helpful in the implementation action plan. I also give credit to Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) for their support in encouraging all councils to come up with gender responsive budget.

The sensitisation talks that have been carried out in schools, prisons, orphanages, markets, and the community have helped me to see a good response from the community. People are aware of where to report cases related to GBV; even at my place of work, employees are now aware of GBV. When we had a talk on sexual harassment, most of the employees were able to contribute and raise serious issues that caught my attention.

I wish to continue mainstreaming gender in our local authority, and also to continue championing gender in other institutions. I have plans of becoming a gender advocate at the national level and also take up more challenging positions. I would like to thank GL for the job well done; we were really behind in mainstreaming gender at local level. With the coming of COE we started at a good note and we have completed three stages so I can see that we are going somewhere.


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