As 2017 draws to an end, we recap some of the year’s highlights as presented to you in the Every Woman supplement. We covered some of the most inspiring stories and personalities from a cross section of professions and achievements. Here are some of our random picks as compiled by Brenda Twea, our staff reporter.
Edith Jiya – Ommala Group CEO
Edith Jiya is one of the strong- willed women making a mark in the country’s corporate world. Earlier this year, she was named chief executive officer (CEO) for the Old Mutual Malawi Group and she took over from Chris Kapanga who retired at the end of February.
Jiya led the Ommala Group as acting CEO since March 2015 when Kapanga was seconded to West Africa as Group CEO for Old Mutual Ghana. She admitted that it was an opportunity that was challenging and humbling to be trusted to lead.
Jiya joined Old Mutual Malawi in May 2007 after a few years of working with Oil Company of Malawi (Oilcom), now Puma.
“Coming to Old Mutual was, for me, purely a quest for a fresh challenge. I saw the opportunity; I applied and was successful in my interviews. It was a real challenge at first and in the first few months, I asked myself if I had made the right decision. Later on, I realised that I needed to do my best,” she said.
Born at Likuni Hospital in Lilongwe, Jiya is the first born of three. She grew up at Chitedze Research Station where both her parents worked as agricultural scientists.
She graduated from the Malawi Polytechnic in 1996 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She also holds a Master of Science and a post graduate diploma in Marketing.
“I pursued all these studies after college because I believe that one can never have enough knowledge, and that it is necessary to use every opportunity to learn,” she pointed out.
Born on April 14, 1976, the soft spoken CEO is married to Harold Jiya with two children, Takondwa (16) and Maziko (13). Her dream is to leave Old Mutual better than she found it.
Natasha Tonthola —Rights activist
The confident and easy going former Big Brother Africa housemate Natasha Tonthola is now an activist for women’s and children’s rights.
An orphan, Natasha dropped out of school and experienced early pregnancy, early marriage and gender-based-violence (GBV). She now complements government and non-governmental organisation (NGOs)’s efforts to keep girls in school.
Her mission is to ensure that no girl drops out of school because of menstruation, lack of appropriate underwear or sanitary wear.
Aged 29, the mother of one, who is also looking after 14 extended family members is also keen on protecting the environment and has since innovated eco-friendly reusable sanitary products and diapers which she claims are 100 percent bio-degradable.
“Since 2004, I have been implementing Project Dignity to keep girls in school. Under this project, I designed underwear and eco-friendly reusable washable napkins to ensure that girls do not miss classes when menstruating and that they do not drop out of school due to lack of appropriate underwear. I have so far managed to identify 1 000 marginalised girls across the country in all 28 districts as beneficiaries of the project,” she says.
Project Dignity earned her a nomination for the Youth Citizenship Entrepreneurship 2016 Challenge under the best project category. She won the first prize in Berlin, Germany.
Natasha was also nominated and shortlisted as a finalist for the Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel 2016 Innovations Awards for her efforts in liberating the girl child and for innovating the reusable washable napkins.
Maliam Mdoko—First female architects’ president
Maliam Mdoko is the first female president of the Malawi Institute of Architects (MIA) and came in with a promise to promote the visibility and role of the architects in the country as she sails the institute’s ship for the next two years.
“Architects have a role to change the infrastructure landscape, but for us to do that, we need to be given the chance and of course reclaim our role. It is, therefore, important for people to respect this fact.
“As president, I will promote the visibility and role of the institute as well as that of architects. I will also ensure that different professionals in the construction industry work together in promoting and safeguarding the industry,” she said.
Maliam’s professional experience dates back to 2001 when she joined Kanjere and Associates; and worked for about 10 years. She joined as an intern and later as a graduate architect after attaining her Bachelor of Science in Architecture.
“I worked on a number of projects and mastered a lot about architectural designing and overall contract administration/project management. I was further exposed and challenged to take leadership roles on most of the projects. In 2010, I joined Press Trust as a projects officer and in 2014, I was promoted to the position of projects manager which I hold up to this day,” she explained.
Maliam is the first born of seven. She holds a Diploma in Architectural Technology from the Malawi Polytechnic; a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and qualified as an architect in 2009 after the professional practice training and exams (PPT+E). She also holds an executive Master of Business Administration from Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute and Maastricht School of Management (Esami/MSM) attained in September 2010.