Like an eagle, Patience Munyenyembe flies high in her court of many colours.
At 27, she carries the huge responsibility as the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Youth Parliament speaker, representing Malawian youths, those in the region and beyond.
Patience took up her role as in May this year. And before that, she represented the country as Sadc youth member of Parliament since June 2020.
The regional policy advocacy, engagement arm and flagship programme is coordinated by the Southern Africa Youth Forum and other stakeholders.
It releases a call for nominations for young people living in any of the Sadc member States to apply as their country’s representatives and successful ones are selected.
“In my new role, I plan to engage policymakers such as parliamentarians, ministers, national youth councils, youth organisations, Pan-African organisations, regional and international organisations to influence legislation and implementation of national, regional, international instruments and practices that facilitate youth inclusion and participation,” she explains.
The Young African Women Leads 2023 Awardee, wears many hats.
She is also part of the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Centre (Yali RLC) alumni.
Patience is Yali Alumni Association of Malawi vice secretary.
She is secretary for the International Republican Institute of generation democracy, Malawi Chapter.
And she is the Young Feminists Network director of advocacy.
Patience is also Africa-Asia Youth Foundation director of gender and women’s affairs.
The young leader has amplified youths’ voices in the Sadc region at continental youth forums.
She has advocated for public policy reforms at both national and regional levels.
The speaker has engaged government and stakeholders to domesticate and integrate regional instruments, action plans and strategies.
“As a young person who is passionate about promoting sexual and reproductive health rights of young women, I am committed to ensuring young people have access to information and resources for informed decisions,” she says.
Leadership seems to run in Patience’s veins—from being the firstborn in a family of four and class representative or school prefect in her early school days.
Patience was born at Kapiri Health Centre in Nkhotakota on May 13 1996.
She went to Guilleme Girls Primary School, Matindi Girls Academy and Likuni Girls Secondary School.
After writing the Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations, she sat for the public university entrance examination, but never made it to any public university.
However, Patience was undeterred as she enrolled with the University of Livingstonia to study food security and nutrition in 2014.
She left a year later for Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources to study for a diploma in gender and development under the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment scholarship offered by the Ministry of Gender with funding from UNFPA.
“I graduated in March 2017 and in November the same year, I went to Bunda Campus to do my bachelor’s degree in the same field and I finished in August 2021. So I hold an advanced diploma and bachelor’s degree in gender and development with credit,” she brags.
Patience looks forward to working as a diplomat, Cabinet minister or starting a business to create employment for young people.
Her aspiration comes from powerful women such as Habiba Osmans, Martha Chizuma and Grace Malera.
Patience only celebrates her highest moments as she does not dwell on negativity.
Her highest moment was in December 2022 when she was one of the presenters at the second Pan-African Parliament Youth Dialogue in Rabat, Morocco.
“Diplomats and members of parliaments from across Africa attentively listened to a small girl from Malawi for a good one hour,” she says.
She urges youths to be intentional and make choices to reflect what is most important to them.
“Becoming intentional can help us maintain a positive mindset, reach goals, experience clarity and presence. It can also increase our focus, commitment, purpose and meaning to our lives,” she says.
To girls, she says: “The future is exciting so, don’t give up on your dreams no matter the circumstances. Don’t let your today define your future and remember to look at the positive side of things to avoid disappointments.”
Patience likes reading books, dancing and travelling. She love to eat nsima with chambo and is looking forward to getting married to a good husband.