“If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.” – George Monbiot
Meet some Malawian women who personify the truth of Monbiot’s statement.
I asked them how many times a day they come to the well and kind of expected the answer to be once in the morning and once in the evening. Then again, how many times a day do I turn on the tap at the kitchen sink? These women told me they walk to this well around five or six times a day to carry the water they need back home to cook food and care for their families.
They also cooperate together to care for this well by maintaining a fund for any needed repair. So far it hasn’t needed any major repairs and it has been here for a few years now. Great news! They also grow gardens together and are a community invested in the nutrition of their children. Smarter crops mean healthier children. These are some amazing mothers.
Trinitas works at the Girls Empowerment Network in Blantyre, a part of a larger team whose mission advocates for vulnerable girls. That means they work with young girls who have been married off too young, and would rather be in school than pregnant with a baby. Trinitas and the women of the Girls Empowerment Network are offering a future to young girls who never imagined they could dream up one for themselves.
In her late twenties, Trinitas is engaged to be married to a man she loves and will probably have children of her own some day. But she is already a mother to the many girls for whom she advocates.
Lucy is a skilled administrator working in Lilongwe. She oversees large scale clean water efforts in Malawi on a project called MWASH. (Malawi Water, Sanitation and Hygiene). This professional mother of three supervises field work that results in other mothers who can better care for their families because they have access to clean water.
Joshua is the village headwoman near the school at Chikolombe. She lives in Malawi’s southern district of Thyolo. As a community leader, she is an advocate for the education of students and understands the need for safe water and sanitation solutions in the schools, especially for girls. Joshua understands that healthy students are better learners. Successful learners offer brighter futures for the community in which Joshua is a respected and celebrated leader.
Lucy is a shop owner in Salima where woman buy material and have it turned into beautiful outfits for special occasions. Lucy is a savvy businesswoman and wonderful role model for young girls who seek to stand on their own financial feet.
So, here is a general salute to all the women and girls with an entrepreneurial spirit and a dream to do something amazing. I love that in Malawi you carry your babies on your back and fruit on your head. You sell peanuts by the bagful and you keep on going.
The NGOs we partner with in Malawi are teaching me that, when equipped to rewrite their stories, women and girls become powerful agents of change in the world. Empowered women broker peace and we could all use a little more peace in the world. Here’s to the strong women of Malawi and your beautifully colorful world.