Mifuko's women leaders in Kenya embrace equity
We spoke to three inspiring women in leadership positions at Mifuko's Kenyan team about their experiences as women in the work force and what it means to #EmbraceEquity. Here is what they had to say.
(In picture, Ruth Kalondu Mbuva)
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jacinta: My name is Jacinta Masila and I have been an Operations Manager with Mifuko since 2021.
Victoria: My name is Victoria Ndile and I am the Order and Systems Administrator for Mifuko. I have been working with Mifuko since 2021.
Ruth: My name is Ruth Kalondu Mbuva. I am the Production Manager for Mifuko. I have been working with Mifuko since 2009.
(In picture, Jacinta Masila)
What is it like working for Mifuko?
Jacinta: It has been a great experience interacting with the artisans and seeing the basket weaving culture among the Kamba community being preserved.
Victoria: Working for Mifuko has been interesting and fun for me. I get to interact with a lot of different people, like colleagues, our vendors and artisans. Each one of these people has taught me something that has helped me be more effective at my job.
Ruth: It has been wonderful working for Mifuko. I have learned how to engage with our artisans and their communities, and I'm so satisfied with my work.
(In picture, Victoria Ndile)
What do you think helped you the most to make a career as a woman?
Jacinta: My background is as an Engineer, which is a male dominated field. What has helped me is always encouraging myself with the saying, ‘what men can do women can do it better’.
Victoria: My mum who has been very supportive. She taught me the basics of what I needed to do my job at Mifuko like stock keeping and product quality management. My background is in Travel and Tourism Management, so I was lucky to also have a mentor who taught me everything else I needed to know to be successful in my role. My collogues and immediate bosses have also been super supportive.
Ruth: Working closely with the women artisans, especially from my rural area has helped me a lot with being fulfilled in my job. I also have a mentor and a supportive family, and I make the effort to consistently grow my professional network.
Why do we need more women in leadership roles?
Jacinta: Women are the pillars of the society and having more women in leadership creates more diversity in perspectives to the table to ensure more effective business discussions and solutions.
Victoria: We need more women in leadership because women are smart, compassionate and nurturing and thus create safer working environments.
Ruth: Women make more thoughtful decisions which create a more cohesive and cooperative work environment, that helps everyone feel valued.
Which women inspire you the most and why?
Jacinta: My late mother because she was a strong woman ensured we got good education despite her not having gone to school herself. I am also inspired by the accomplished track and field athlete, Allyson Felix, whose maternal advocacy work pushed Nike to update its maternity policy promising to not apply any performance-related salary reductions for 18 consecutive months after pregnancy. We need more women who can advocate for women related issues.
Victoria: My mom who is also my best friend. I have seen her create a career from nothing, raise her kids and provide for them without complaining. She has instilled values in me that I will pass on to the next generation. I am also inspired by the Kenyan social, environmental and a political activist Wangari Mathai. She was the first female professor ever in Kenya at a time when women never got such opportunities. She left a legacy (the Green Belt Movement) to help save our environment which continues to inspire me to do my bit to make the world safer for this and future generations.
Ruth: I am inspired by the American attorney, author and former first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama. I also inspire myself!
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does this mean to you?
Jacinta: For me, #EmbraceEquity is about acknowledging that women are disadvantaged in the society and putting strategies and measures to ensure there is a fair playing field.
Victoria: #EmbraceEquity for me is about fairness in giving opportunities to everyone, being impartial and nurturing potential.
Ruth: Embrace equity to me means accepting and affirming that everyone is welcome in every space they so wish to be in no matter their differences.
What words of encouragement do you have for the next generation of women leaders?
Jacinta: Your gender is not a disability; the sky is not the limit for what you believe in.
Victoria: I would encourage next generation of women leaders to be fierce and not let anyone bring them down. Be kind to yourself even as you face failure and be kind to others.
Ruth: Take up space, use your voice and take a stand for what you believe in.