Malawi’s Ireen Zalira among 4 young Africans who are changing the world – Graca Machel

Malawi’s feminist Ireen Zalira has been named among the four young Africans who are changing the world.

Ireen Umba Zalira - far right
Ireen Umba Zalira – far right

According to the founder of Graca Machel Trust, widow of former South Africa President late Nelson Mandela and Mozambican President Samora Machel, she met Zalira at World Economic Forum on Africa which she co-chaired in Kigali, Rwanda.

“Irene rightfully views health as a human right. For most young girls in Malawi and across the globe, having access to quality RMNCAH information and services is a matter of life and death. Growing up, Irene herself had little or no access to reliable sources of information on sexual and reproductive health. And she decided to change that so others won’t find themselves in a similar situation,” Machel wrote on her online column that was published this month.

Reacting to the news, Zalira said she was elated.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by such an amazing powerful woman leader like Graca Machel whom I look up to as a young African woman. It is always humbling to see yourself in the eyes of others because as humans we have the tendency of downplaying our own achievements,” disclosed the excited Zalira in an interview with Nyasa Times.

She added: “Am excited to be part of this generation of young African leaders-young men and women that are actually doing big things! For a long time we were told that we are the leaders of tomorrow and we waited for that tomorrow, it never came. When we got tired, we demanded for our space and created it for ourselves where there was none. Africa is rising and the young people are at the core of this. And it is an exciting time to be alive!”

Zalira further said Malawian youth have a lot of potential, saying many young people starting up inspiring and innovative initiatives, companies and organisations.

Together with Chikondi Chabvuta and Lusungu Kalanga, Zalira established all young women led organization Growing Ambitions in August 2014 with 30 teenage mothers in Kauma, Lilongwe.

“The initial plan was to go meet the girls once a month and just talk to them and encourage them; we never planned to start up an organization. But passion does not let you leave-once you start doing something you are passionate about you see it through. Now we are supporting more than 40 girls by providing a safe space for sharing, learning and mentorship, we also provide financial support for the girls to go back and stay in school.

“The passion to build the capacity of girls and young women from peri- urban areas to take full charge of their lives in all areas is at the center of our organization. We believe that girls are amazingly determined and resourceful in their fight to achieve a better future. Our mission is to build the capacity of girls and young women in making informed decisions on their life’s trajectory through mentoring and career guidance,” explained Zalira.

The other three are Angeline Makore from Zimbabwe, Mark Gachagua from Kenya and Kelebogile Simula from Botswana.

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8 years ago

Wow Umba this is great! I am so proud of you…You go girl!!!

8 years ago


Govala Boy
8 years ago

Mayi Graca MACHEL, kukongola kuli tho mpaka che Mandela sanaugwire ali tidya mwa mnafedwa waku Moz kkkkkk. Takwatiwanitu ndi che Afonse Dlakhama mutithandize mwina angapite msanga akutiyabwa apa

Govala Boy
8 years ago

Za ziiiii, mayi Graca Machel nawo ukalamba wavuta, osamangopha ma Presisdent awowo. Poyamba Machel kenako Mandela and panopa watsala Afonso Dlakhama ampititse akutiyabwa ife….

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