Thursday, 22 March 2012

2012 Women of Distinction Awards-Malawi

Who won an award at WODA 2012 awards and what earned them the awards
By Albert Sharra

March 10, 2012, will remain a day to remember in the world of women awards in the Malawi as this is the day, both men and women from all walks of life came together as a family to recognise and appreciate the works some of our mothers have contributed to the economic and social wellbeing of the country at a special function called Women of Distinction (WODA) 2012 awards held at the New State House in Lilongwe. This was the first event of such calibre to award 15 successful women who have contributed largely in various fields at one time.

However, though various quarters have described the event a success, some people have questioned on what earned most of the awardees the honours. In an interview WODA awards elections committee chairperson Dr Agness Chimbiri said the awardees were nominated by the public and the committee only picked the cream from list, but Dr Chimbiri said the committee had a tough task to identify the winner. She says most nominations were submitted without giving brief success stories of the candidates.
According to Dr. Chimbiri each category had three finalists and the best was picked after satisfying the following conditions. Contributed to community needs and solutions, her activities have an impact and that the activities reflect an innovative approach to meeting community, development and social needs of the people in the country.

ALBERT SHARRA digs to reveal what earned who the awards.

Life Time Achiever
Mama Cecilia Kadzamira
Out of the fifteen awardees, former Hostess to the late president of the republic of Malawi Dr Kamuzu Banda Mama Cecilia Kadzamira was named the Life time achiever. The award comes among many others awards with notable ones being Older of Lion of Malawi (OLM) award by the late Dr. Kamuzu Banda; Malawi Order of Achievement (MAC) by president Professor Bingu wa Mutharika,Interior Decoration by Spanish Interior Decorator  and Honorary Doctorate in Humanities. She was also once recognised for her successful work as a hostess to the former president for 31 years and her charity projects in the rural areas.
Mama is also the founding member of Malawi against Polio (MAP) in the early 1970’s and Dzidalire Community Development Agency from 2007. This woman of distinction also co-founded Malawi Orthopedic Assistants Project in the 1980s and Chitukuko cha Amayi M’Malawi (CCAM) in 1985. The Life Time Achiever also serves as a Trustee and Board member of Kamuzu Academy (since 1977) and Mtendere Orphanage (from 2006). Also in support to the vulnerable, through her work with Mtendere Orphanage and Dzidalire Community Development Agency, Mama Kadzamira sources support from missionaries in America who provide shoes that are given to people who plant more trees. With her team, she mobilizes women who teach orphaned children from 6 years of age to secondary school level.

Mama Kadzamira (in glasses, with a walking stick),First Lady Callista Mutharika (in red blouse) WODA founder and director Zilanie Gondwe Nyundo (far right) and others celebrating after Mama had won the life time Achiever award 

National Woman of Distinction
Also won the Science and Technology award
Felicity Malewezi

Wife to the former Vice president of Malawi Justin Malewezi, Felicity Malewezi was awarded the National Woman of Distinction. The award came after she also won the Science and Technology award. Malewezi is an astounding Mathematician and educationist. She holds a Masters degree in Mathematics Education from Leeds University with a distinction.  She has taught Mathematics from 1968 to 1983 in various secondary schools in Malawi. Throughout her teaching career she strived to demystify the teaching of mathematics and present it in such a way that students would understand, enjoy learning it and also find it relevant in their daily lives. To succeed in her quest to demystify the teaching of mathematics she did not only strive to change the mindset of students she taught, but also of the policy makers in the Ministry of Education itself, as well as teachers and parents. She therefore took time to examine in-depth the issue of mathematics in Malawi and the various factors that contribute to students, and in particular girls, to find mathematics difficult and irrelevant in their lives. This resulted in her re-writing Book 1 of General Mathematics which is a user friendly book widely used in schools in Malawi.  She also contributed in the writing of the Primary Mathematics Book which is currently used by Standard 8 pupils through out Malawi. Not only that. She has also written several papers most of which were on the Mathematics curriculum in Malawi schools as well as gender stereotyping and sexism and how these negatively impact on girl’s achievement. Malewezi has also worked on a number of consultancies and Projects for UNICEF on girls education the results of which have had a positive impact on education in Malawi. She is also co-founder of a community based organization called “Mwana wa Mnzako” whose major objective is to provide financial support to orphans to enable them access and complete their secondary school education. Since its inception in 2003 Mwana wa Mnzako, has been paying school and related fees in secondary schools for an average of 55 orphans annually.

Annie Fletcher
54 years old enterprenuer.She hails from Zomba. Fletcher is a woman with extra ordinary entrepreneurial spirit. She managed to expand her business from a humble beginning of running a bottle store in 1986 to a big business empire in the hospitality industry. Now proudly owners Annies Lodge Group comprising of:  Annie’s coffee shop - Area 2,  Lilongwe ,Annie’s lodge - Area 47, Lilongwe, Annie’s lodge - Area 10, Lilongwe, Annie’s lodge – Zomba and Annie’s lodge – Nyambadwe, Blantyre. She is also founder of a Women Support Network formed in 2004 which trains women in entrepreneurship, leadership and other economic activities. Current membership of the network is 500
Fletcher has also served as Member of Parliament for Changalume constituency between 1999 – 2004.In 2010 Fletcher was recognized as global eminent leader” by the Leadership Studies Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Chrissie Katundu
A cassava farmer and an agro-processor from T/A Malemia, Domasi, Zomba.She is Director of Alongolele Enterprises, a personal business which she started in 1998 processing Kondowole and selling it to supermarkets.  
Founder of a large Community Based Organisation called Cassava Mbatata Roots and Tubers Enterprise (CMRTE) with current membership of 2,500 farmers (87% of whom are women) with the aim of involving small scale cassava farmers in the farming and agro-processing of cassava. CMRTE currently has a big factory which processes cassava into high quality flour for baking which is supplied to different bakeries. 
Katundu has received various awards and among them include Trade and Industry Award in 2003,Top Budding Women Entrepreneur Award winner in 2005 and Global Entrepreneur Award in New York organized by United Nations in 2005.
 Maureen Chirwa, PhD
A professional nurse with specialization in health systems management with more than 20 years experience of teaching health professionals in state and academic institutions including external examining of various local and international universities.
She has extensive research degree supervision and other postgraduate teaching experience and has carried out and managed consultancies for a number of international development agencies and NGOs.  She is on a pool of distinguished international consultants with Health and Life Sciences Partnerships a UK based firm and a German based Organisation called EPOS Health Management. 
She has a number of book chapters and journal publications in peer reviewed journals.
She  facilitated the development of a Registered Nursing Diploma Program for Enrolled nurses for both Kamuzu College of Nursing and Malawi College of Health Sciences, initiated a University Wide HIV and AIDS programme on Life Skills within the University of Malawi, when she was the Chief Executive officer of the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi- she mobilised resources to support the development of nursing and midwifery education and practice in Malawi which included the development of a Diploma in Nursing and Midwifery Technician Programme; Bachelors Degree in Nursing and Midwifery programme for Mzuzu University. She also played a major role in development of the non financial incentives for the hard to reach areas; and the development of the six year Emergency Human Resources for Health in Malawi
Public Service
Kettie Mkandawire
Born on 23rd August 1971.Mkandawire is a female Solder in the Malawi Defence Force. Joined the MDF in 1999.She has achieved a lot while in the MDF.In 2003 she became the first female soldier to drive a Senior Officer (Brigadier),In 2001 she became the first female soldier to obtain a Certificate in Boxing Coaching, In 2007 she went to Israel and did a VIP protection course in which she emerged the best, she is the first female soldier to establish a military police at Cobbe Barracks, in 2010 she became the first female soldier in the history of MDF to undergo Drill and Duties Course both basic and advanced and in 2011 she made another history by becoming the first female soldier to be an Instructor in the Drill and Duties Course in 2011
Gertrude Kasopa
A 37 year old PTE3 primary school teacher with passion in the education welfare of girls. She encourages girls in primary schools to fully utilize their potential in mathematics and science. She has also been a source of motivation and encouragement for girls who have dropped out from school after becoming pregnant. She is well known to the communities surrounding St John Primary School in Lilongwe as she regularly visits the school drop out girls in these communities encouraging them to go back to school after delivering. She is also involved in Girl guide activities through which she encourages girls to be patriotic to their country, helping them to realize their full potential and also to have a clear mandate and score of being responsible citizens of Malawi. She is a mentor for a lot of young girls around St Johns Primary School. Apart from that, She also holds a Certificates in Football Refereeing, Certificate in Insert Programme of PCAR and Certificate in  Counselling of Peer Educators 
Gloria Banda
30 year old Radio and Television Producer and Presenter for Malawi Broadcasting Corporation who through her career has promoted and advanced women social issues. As a result of her passion for women issues, she has been involved in a number of projects involving both radio and TV productions which have had tremendous impact on the lives of millions of women who listen to radio and watch the TV.
Banda holds a Diploma in journalism from the University of Malawi, The Polytechnic. She has produced and presented some well known programmes as well as improved the quality the following programmes: Nthawi ya Amayi - a programme which tackles issues aimed at achieving social economic empowerment for women, Zoona Zake Zaumoyo -  a programme that tackles women Health issues and features topics on maternal health, HIV/Aids, hygiene and malaria, Oyo N’kamodzi – also a programme which  aims  at addressing maternal health problems to ensure that no woman dies of childbirth related complications, She is also the producer and presenter for a TV programme called Mayi wa Lero which aims at encouraging women to raise their living standards a programme chosen as the most listened to program on MBC Radio one according to an independent 2011 National Media Survey by Afro Management and  Zokonda Amayi -  a popular program amongst women which allows women to interact, share ideas and experiences.
Grace Chinga
An accomplished woman who takes music career to the heights of her capabilities. She is among few successful women who have survived the music market and find a place for gospel music in the country. She has received various awards with the latest being Malawi Music Awards 2011 Gospel artist of the year.
Mary Waya
Was born on 25 May 1968.She is a Malawian netball player and coach. Waya started playing international-level netball at the age 14, and has played in more than 200 representative matches for Malawi. During that time she has competed in two World Netball Championships (1995 and 2007), three Commonwealth Games (1998, 2006 and 2010), and two World Netball Series (2009 and 2010).
Waya came to international prominence during the 2007 World Championships in New Zealand, where the Malawian national team (the "Queens") finished 5th, their highest ever placing. She announced her retirement after the tournament, but returned to international competition the following year. She remains the national team's most high-profile player and was chosen as the flag bearer for the Malawi team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
After the 2010 World Series in Liverpool, Waya again announced her retirement from international netball and later that year stepped into the role of head coach of the Malawi U-20 netball team. Domestically, Waya plays for the MTL Queens.

Maternal Health
Dr. Jane Namasasu
A Registered Nurse, Midwife, and Public Health Nurse professional who has made great contributions to maternal health in Malawi. She holds a Master’s degree in Community Health from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom and a PhD in Public Health obtained at Edith Cowan University, Perth in Western Australia and currently works as a Zone Supervisor for Central East health zones. Some of her outstanding works and achievements include:Her involvement in the establishment of  a Reproductive Health Unit for the Ministry of Health to implement a comprehensive reproductive health programme ,She conducted a National Emergency Obstetric Care Assessment which led to the development of the roadmap to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity from 2005 -2015, the implementation of which has so far been a success for Malawi and She also co-founded the Centre for Reproductive Health which is affiliated with the College of Medicine to undertake research, monitor and evaluate the implementation of reproductive health programme.

Young Woman Leader
Thembi Thadzi
27 year old 4th year student in development studies with Share World Open University with full of passion for youth development. She is the first and only young woman in Malawi to be appointed on to the National advisory Council on Strategic Planning. Thadzi was also amongst the 115 young people across Africa, who had the privilege to meet the  USA president,Barrack Obama in 2010 in Washington DC. In 2010 was awarded the Commonwealth Youth  Initiative Award and the Youth Development Award by the National Youth Council of Malawi for her outstanding work in Youth development. She is a representative of the regional youth caucus for the commonwealth youth program and is Chairperson for the Resource Mobilization committee for the yet to be launched Youth parliament, Vice chairperson of the Ten Plus Link,an initiative that identifies and promotes the different talents of the youth and also member of Pan African Youth forum, Young African leaders network, The red cross , Scout Association of Malawi  and was once chairperson of the National Youth council. For her work, she received a leadership health award at the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynaecology and Obstetrics 30th anniversary function at the United States of House of Representatives in September of 2003.
Woman Champion
Sakina Nyenge
She hails from Mponde Village T/A Jalasi Mangochi district. Through her work she has had a tremendous impact on women and girls in the communities around her village. She leads a Community Based Organisation of women in her village which carries out a number of activities which focus on the plight of women and girls.  The organisation has been involved in the provision of awareness and counselling sessions on HIV and Aids; support for the elderly by proving them food and carrying out some chores for them. Her organisation has also been involved in encouraging and counselling girls who have dropped out from school due to pregnancies to go back to school to continue with their education. The organisation has also been involved in advocating and persuading schools around the communities to accept such girls back into school.
Catherine Chipembere
She is the founder of the Women Initiative Network (International), a community based organization (CBO) based in Mangochi and Blantyre which was formed in 1998 after she was concerned with HIV/AIDS situation and its impact in the country. The Organisation operates in remote villages where people are severely poverty stricken.  Due to poverty, these people are hungry and vulnerable to diseases. The programs carried out by this organization are run by committees who work voluntarily in mobilizing and training villagers to run these programs. The programs run by the organization include: Community Based Child Care Centers, Home-based Care for the Sick, Hunger Project, Income Generating Activities for food security, supporting the Old/ the Handicap, youth and the girl child. 
Chipembere has also assisted in forming a literacy class at Ntangaluka Village, securing scholarships for needy students to attend secondary schools, referring orphans to social workers for assistance.
Equal opportunity employer
Standard Bank
Standard Bank is one of Malawi’s leading financial institutions and has been in operation as a bank in Malawi for 42 years. The bank strives to move its customers, communities and employees forward.

The bank’s main competitive advantage is its people. The bank’s philosophy is to ensure members of staff realize their personal and career dreams. One key component in the Bank’s values is growing its people. To achieve this feat, Standard Bank has an equal opportunity policy, which remains sacrosanct and is premised on engagement of staff to fill a position being made looking at any status like race,sex etc. Recruitment process is transparent and no favours are made. By December 2011, more than 40% of the total employees are women.
Men and women at Standard Bank excel on equal footing and there are many women than men in key and strategic positions within the Bank
In 2011, Malawi Congress of Trade Union recognized Standard Bank as one of the best employers in Malawi.
In addition, through its Cooperate Social Responsibility policy,the bank supports basic education and maternal health  which occupy an important aspect for the attainment of the  MDGs in Malawi.
That’s the cream some Malawian women have done to their country. Read detailed aspiring stories for each awardee in Nation On Sunday on Everywoman page every Sunday from 18th March to end May 2012.

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