DOREEN NAWA, Kafue
FEWER women than men make it big in life or indeed run big companies.
Today, women hold only around a fifth of seats in national parliaments around the world, and the gender gap will not close up any time soon.
It is tough for many women to be optimistic because of the negative perception that society attaches to those that dream big.
But change is happening, and not just in the conventional corridors of power.
And Buumba Malambo, 24, is determined to bring about that change.
She is one of the youngest ward councillors in Zambia and has stepped out to add to that number of women that have taken leadership roles of change in their communities.
Ms Malambo, Magoba ward councillor in Kafue district, located about 45 kilometres south of Lusaka, is the first-ever female councillor of Magoba ward.
Ms Malambo won the 2016 elections by a landslide, beating all her 13 male opponents to write a new history of the ward.
This did not make her sit on her laurels as first woman councillor in the ward, she instead started working immediately.
Not long after her inauguration, Ms Malambo announced her intention to contest the deputy council chairperson’s seat for Kafue district.
And apart from serving as councillor, she is a member of several other committees, such as the Ministry of Gender and Child national co-ordinating committee.
While everyone is familiar with the female leaders who generate headlines, Ms Malambo has quietly impacted her community massively.
A drive in her ward proves that Ms Malambo is a household name because of her work in sponsoring children’s education.
“The good thing about education is that it gives you the ability to think in a different perspective,” Ms Malambo says.
Her statement is what motivated her to start sponsoring a boy, who is now in Grade Eight.
Because of her dream to uplift the lives of the vulnerable through education, Ms Malambo started a charitable foundation called Buumbalambo Foundation.
The Buumbalambo Foundation focuses its efforts in her ward.
“It’s not where I was born. It’s just a place I found myself because my lecturer took me there for my internship in 2014 when I was a social work student at the University of Zambia (UNZA). Because of what I observed during my internship, I was motivated by three girls I used to see every morning carrying firewood and they were not in school. I enquired further and found out that children don’t go to school because they cannot afford the requirements,” Ms Malambo says.
She told herself, “No-one cares about these people, it seems no one even knows they exist but people stay here. I can be the change they have not seen in their lives.”
Just this thought was enough to give a push to her dream. Growing up with a passion of helping others, Ms Malambo started charity work at a tender age.
“At the age of 15, I was already involved in charity work with the Judith Chikonde Foundation and participated in the maize distribution project, where I was donating maize meal to the people of Mupambe village during the typhoid outbreak in 2007. I was even appointed Mufulira Youth Secretary by the then Mufulira Town Clerk from 2008 to 2010,” Ms Malambo recalls.
And when she went to Magoba, an extremely remote area consisting of about 30 widely dispersed villages, which are only accessible on foot, that was an opportunity to relive her passion.
Buumbalambo Foundation focuses on the rights of women and empowers school-going children with clothes, school books and beddings.
The foundation has four projects currently running: Mwana Apunzile sponsorship programme, where people voluntarily choose a child and support their education. Now, with the help of sponsors in Zambia and abroad, she is supporting 535 children.
Another project is the ‘Sewing a future’ project for young mothers where they sew and make crafts that are sold locally and internationally to help raise money to support their children’s education.
The rest are a farm project aimed at assisting in food production to reduce the hunger and malnutrition levels in Magoba ward, and the ‘Pop a future’ project, where young people are empowered with employment through skills, ICT and popcorn machines.
Through her work, Ms Malambo has received several recognitions for women and children empowerment both locally and internationally.
As her 17th award, Ms Malambo will on November 17, 2017 receive the ‘Outstanding African motivational award 2017’ in the African Image Maker category at a ceremony in Netherlands.
The same award was won by Dr Kenneth Kaunda in 2012.This makes her the youngest-ever recipient of the Voice Awards.
Two weeks ago, Ms Malambo was in Seychelles, where she was selected to represent young women in Africa at the first-ever Women’s Parliament conference.
Some of the local and international awards Ms Malambo has won over the years are the 2015 Women4Africa Award, 2015 Africa Arising Award, 2015 Zambia Woman of the Year Award and the 2014 African International Achievers Award.
Ms Malambo was born in 1991 in the mining town of Mufulira on the Copperbelt, where she grew up and attended school.
After secondary school, she went to the University of Zambia, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work in 2014.
Ms Malambo encourages young people around the world to work hard and become future leaders. On her trip to Seychelles two weeks ago, she told young African women leaders that leadership is not limited to age or status in life.
She urged the young leaders to be the next generation of problem-solvers and to take up the responsibility for banishing hunger and ending HIV/AIDS.
She hopes to see that more young women, being inspired by her, would become great leaders in the future.
For Ms Malambo, leadership is about confidence and decision-making. It is about speaking out, but also doing the important work behind the scenes.
For sure, a great leader will inspire people for generations to come, and bring hope regardless of time in history.
And that’s what Ms Malambo is doing.