Talitha Bulaya, our newly certified Gender Equality Changemaker, is a professional from the Zambian banking sector. She joined the first cohort of Gender Equality Changemakers programme after seeing it advertised but did not know that her experience on the course would be an answered prayer that has given her the skills and tools that she needed.
In 2001, Talitha became a card specialist for the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO). ZANACO was established in 1969 to serve the financial needs of the Zambian economy, since then it has evolved into a leading bank nationwide. Working with the bank has given Talitha access to digital and mobile banking channels, and an opportunity to work with the National Finance Switch (NFS). In 2021, Talitha qualified as a Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (CDFP) and most recently enrolled in the Gender Equality Changemakers (GEC) programme with Digital Frontiers Institute (DFI). As a certified Gender Equality Changemaker, Talitha aspires to use the knowledge and skills that she gained from the course to become the next Community of Practice (COP) facilitator for Zambia. By doing this, she will be able to impact her community, empower others and contribute towards achieving gender equality.
Talitha’s 6-month long journey on the Gender Equality Changemakers course has consisted of her completing the impressive 5-course GEC programme. The courses included are:
• Foundations for Gender Equity
• Organisations & Gender
• Frameworks for Gender & Organization Change
• Practical Skills for Leading Change
• Capstone Project and received her certification.
Talitha’s highlights of the GEC course include how practical and engaging the content is, and how the gender tools and strategies are easy to apply to one’s life and work environment. The GEC courses consist of a localised curriculum that includes interactive faculty-led live sessions, assessments that use multimedia and questions that equip changemakers for enacting profound and lasting change. The interactive classes led by the Centre for Sexualities, Aids and Gender from the University of Pretoria was one of the aspects of the courses that Talitha enjoyed the most.
The GEC class calls were “a wonderful opportunity to tap into the wisdom and experience of the leaders. I also enjoyed being a Class Champion for several weeks, this gave me the opportunity to be able to coordinate and summarise the class discussion.”
Talitha has always been passionate about gender and improving the lives of women and strongly believes in the adage “when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” She believes that the future of our societies hinges on women, and that an empowered woman raises an empowered family.
Another important part of the programme teaches leadership skills and mindsets needed for gender equitable organisations. From this aspect of the course, Talitha emphasises that:
“It is important for women to have a shift of mindset, and this stems from cultural and social roles changing. The leadership mindset that I obtained is that you cannot categorise women together because they are ‘female’. They may be the same physically, but they face different challenges,”
“It is also important to be deliberate about women because not all of them will be assertive and speak up. They may need a lot of encouragement for them to come out as they should and seize the opportunities before them.”
Talitha shares that she would like to see more women become empowered and knowledgeable of their capabilities so that they can fully participate in DFS. Without gender awareness, women cannot take their place in society and make sound economic decisions. Without gender equity, women will not be able to come to the table because of the obstacles that they face. It is the work of Gender Equality Changemakers like Talitha that will transform women’s roles, economic activity, and decision-making capacity.
Talitha is proud to have contributed to an NGO called Lead Them Back Foundation, by sponsoring a child to go to school for a year. This sponsorship will assist these children in improving their lives and will have an impact on their community.
Talitha leaves us by recommending that learning with DFI and attending the in-country communities of practice (CoP) supports continued professional development and teaches you to be open-minded and willing to learn from different countries.
The COPs are also a platform for networking: “I now have colleagues in both Zambia and Zimbabwe that I can collaborate with.” Talitha’s involvement in the GEC courses has given her the confidence to challenge deep structure and gender flaws in organisations, and the support network to counsel, strengthen and extend her learning beyond the classroom.
Talitha will receive her well-deserved GEC programme certification this year as a part of the first group of GEC alumni. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, it is inspiring and supports the need to drive gender equality and financial inclusion within Africa.