I want my daughters and young women here to see more is possible.Harriet Kawaja
When the members of Harriet’s community asked her to lead the committee that oversees the newly refurbished water pump, in Phimbi village Machinga, initially she resisted.
“I didn’t want to do it, I said ‘Why me?’ I asked if there was anyone else. But no one else was willing so I agreed but I think it has been good. I call the meetings to order, decide what we discuss and ensure there is agreement over what to do next.”
She stresses that the refurbished water point has made a big difference in the lives of women here.
“Before when it wasn’t working well, you would have to wait two or three hours if you were at the end of the queue for water. Now it runs much faster, so we have more time to farm, look after children and do other jobs. It is better.”
Harriet became a single mother of six, when she was widowed in 2010, and initially struggled to make ends meet.
“It was a very hard time after my husband died, we struggled with the farm, to grow enough food. Also, it is just harder when you are a woman on your own there is less respect.”
She also says the changing climate has made life more difficult.
“The land here is not as fertile as it used to be, the rains are less reliable. So we need to change things, to set an example.”
She says that means there should be more power for women.
“Although I didn’t want it, I think it is good I have this position. I want my daughters and young women here so see people listen to me and see more is possible.”