Fondly known as Akweni, Patricia Kaliati, Member of Parliament (MP) for Mulanje West Constituency was born on December 29 at Nkando in the district.
She went to various schools in Mulanje, winding up at Providence Girls Secondary School from where she joined the Karonga Teachers Training College (TTC).
Kaliati finished her teaching studies at Bembeke TTC.
She has taught primary and secondary schools between 1993 and 1999.
While teaching at Thuchila Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) where she was also the head teacher, Kaliati says she was approached to join politics, serving as MP since 1999.
“I never dreamed of becoming an MP. My work at Thuchila CDSS gave people the confidence that I could deliver on their behalf. While serving as head teacher, my school produced many university students and the people thought if I could achieve this, I could do just as well serving them in a constituency,” she explains.
The United Transformation Movement (UTM) member was elected as a legislator in the 1999 general elections on a United Democratic Front (UDF) ticket.
In 2004, she transitioned to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with the late Bingu wa Mutharika and has been its member until recently when she switched to UTM.
She has also held various ministerial positions since the year 2000.
Kaliati has developed her constituency by constructing health centres, school blocks and bridges.
“I have facilitated the construction of Namuinga and Namphunga CDSS’s with girls’ hostels. We have also constructed 28 primary schools and teachers’ houses.
“We have Nkomaola Health Centre where people can get medical help. We also have Tiyamike Cooperative which is producing tomato sauce and Tatsirizana Cooperative which produces cooking oil,” she explains.
The renowned politician notes that female MPs are paramount for a country’s development because they understand better problems that communities face.
“It is said that poverty wears a female face. Women are the ones carrying children on their backs and walking long distances to get to the hospitals for instance. And when a family member is unwell, it is the women, again, who have to walk long distaces to bring food to the sick or to look after them while in hospitals.
“As such, women would understand the need to have hospitals close to the communities. The same goes for the need to have schools nearby, water sources and food. And if you have a woman as MP, there would be no need to tell them what is required because women know and understand,” Kaliati explains.
Encouraging aspiring women contestants, she says it is crucial to stand the heat and be confident.
Most important, she says they need to be ready to become servants for the people.
“To become MP, one needs to be called- to be a servant and a friend of the people and not a boss. That way, people can easily relate with their representative,” she says.