Jurita Mutale – Zambia

Jurita Mutale – Zambia

Date: July 31, 2014
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Jurita Mutale is the kind of person who has a finger in the pie of many issues in Kitwe, especially when it comes to GBV and gender equality. She often figures in the media. She is hardworking and passionate, making a change in society and is therefore a true Driver of Change.

Gender wasn’t an issue for Jurita until she started working. “I realized when I was looking for employment that I was seen as a women and not a human being. I saw a lot of young women going through the same. It was a wake up call.” Having worked for the government for several years, Jurita felt the need for more challenges, and joined YWCA as the General Secretary in Kitwe. During her years at the YWCA, she meet many women and children that had been abused which inspired her write a proposal to the Irish embassy through the Zambian National Aids Network to open a shelter. The proposal was accepted, and in December 2012 The Trauma Healing Center was founded with Jurita as the Director. It’s the only shelter in the Copperbelt offering abused women and children protection and counselling. At the center, they also work with perpetrators. “I have had men breaking down because of what they went through when they were children themselves. When they bring it out they actually break because they realize that they have a lot of unfinished business that they need to attend to.”

Jurita’s first contact with Gender Links took place 2000, when she was involved in an outreach program for women in the YWCA. “These outreach programmes helped us to understand the gender gaps that were in the community. Most of the public meetings of women could not be heard. They could participate, but they could not contribute effectively. There were these cultural things, a woman should not talk so much in public. They would look at you and say this woman is too talkative.”

Jurita was picked to go for a study tour to South Africa to learn about best practices. “From Gender Links I learnt how to advocate through the media, and also to engage the media on gender related issues. From the year 2000 to today I have been in the media, and I have also trained media houses to make sure that they really understand gender. I spoke loudly about the punishment for GBV and the introduction of a law that would address GBV.”

When the Anti GBV Act was planned in 2011, the Zambian Law Development Commission contacted Jurita to get people from the Copperbelt gathered to discuss the law. Maxwell Mwansa, Law Development Commissioner at the Ministry of Justice in Kitwe, who also was involved in the laying out of the law, was impressed by Juritas ability to mobilise people. “S he seems to know exactly how to work with people in the compound, making them realise what needs to be done. She will go into the community and be able to mobilise the community, engage them in these development programs. They always call her, even at night.”

The Kitwe City Council has cooperated a lot with Jurita over the years. “Jurita has a spirit of teamwork. She is that kind of woman who is very passionate when it comes to the impact of change at whatever level, especially when it come to gender issues,” says Shiela Songolo, Deputy Director of Planning. Jurita is currently sitting in a steering group at the council where her knowledge is seen as very valuable. “She is helping other members to really understand what gender is and also to look beyond what they knew.”

The challenge Jurita sees when it comes to gender equality is to increase women’s representation. “We failed to reach the 30% target. I feel that there is a need to do a review on how we are rating ourselves. The review must come with a radical strategy to address gender issues. We need a strategy that will enable us to make the national gender policy to get down to the ordinary person.” She thinks that Gender Links should work more with the community through the council. Gender Links should support the council by being an extra “gender lens.”

Being involved in the development of the Human Trafficking Act and the Anti GBV Act Jurita has cooperated with a lot of different people that haven’t necessarily shared her views on gender. “The challenges are that you are dealing with people coming from different backgrounds with different perceptions. They carry on what they believed in and it becomes very difficult to help them to get to a certain level of understanding.” According to Jurita, this has nothing to do with education. “It’s not a question of one going to school but it’s a matter of being open and ready to learn about things you don’t know and being humble. You get people that are at the level of university but you realize that they don’t understand.”

For the future Jurita wants to continue develop the programmes and activities at the Trauma Healing Center and she hopes that the center in Kitwe can set an example so that more councils can follow in their footsteps.




3 thoughts on “Jurita Mutale – Zambia”

Jurita Mutale. Please get in touch with me urgently. I have a modest contribution to make to Trauma Healing Centre.
Maj Ben Phiri

l have known Jurita from her primary school days in Msoro, Eastern province. She has always had a knack for perfection, she is thorough in what she does and possesses an inborn compassionate and benevolent disposition. She stands out as az genuine advocate for equality and she loathes any form of gender duscriminatoin.

Tim Mfula says:

Major Ben Phiri, unfortunately she passed on and the organisation she founded is been run by a new team that hve continued with the programme.

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