Born in Chitipa, 23 years ago, Catherine Kita is a young leader passionate about women, girls empowerment and youth leadership.
Having worked for Girls Empowerment Network (Genet), TNM, One Acre Fund and Network for Youth Development (NfYD), she founded her own initiative- Women for Social Change which is aimed at keeping girls in school.
Through this initiative, Catherine teaches girls how to make reusable sanitary towels to address one of the root causes of girls’ high school drop-out rates in the country.
“Through Women for Social Change, we have reached over a thousand girls in Blantyre and Zomba with sanitary wear and also through our mentorship programmes. We are also working with women entrepreneurs who we connect with business mentors. We are targeting more female entrepreneurs as the programme expands,” she explains.
Following her exploits, Catherine is currently Malawi’s ambassador for the Action for Youth in Sustainable Environment and Empowerment (Ayese) exchange programme in Zimbabwe.
Catherine is geared at helping the youth to act around issues that affect them and contribute to the development in their communities.
“I was posted to work with young people in Zimbabwe and was hosted by My Age Zimbabwe Trust. The exciting part of being an Ayese Ambassador is the opportunity to lead and gear others. For instance, during the Global Fund Processes meeting in Harare recently, I was given the opportunity to address delegates on social inclusion, which goes back to leading self and leading others,” she says.
Ayese exchange programme empowers the youth to do something about the issues that affect their daily lives and that of the future generation.
It is a programme that is mainly focused on environment, climate change, young women empowerment and human rights.
The programme works with the youth that deal with issues of human rights, young women empowerment, environment and climate change.
Catherine believes that meaningful participation helps young people to add value to their lives and their societies.
The young woman started off just like any other girl.
However, she says she was constantly told by her family, mentors and friends that she could achieve anything she wanted as long as she followed her passion and worked hard.
“My gender was never part of the discussion because I was surrounded by successful women who dreamt big and achieved their personal and professional goals. They also remained true to themselves.
“I used to see a lot of girls in my community failing to aim high because they lacked the chance to listen to someone (a role model) and be inspired to design their own path. That’s how I started reaching out to girls and young women to help them design their own path,” she narrates.
As Ayese ambassador, Catherine is expected to help in implementing activities that promote youth leadership and participation, human rights as well as establish young women forums which promote women economic independence.
However, she is not limited to learning from the host organisation as she also teaches them what her own organisation does back home.
It is clear she did not get to where she is merely by luck. She states that the greatest challenge was to overcome fear.
“Not everyone has believed in me that I could make it. I have learnt to be a champion of my own life and look beyond the fear to start implementing my dreams,” she explains.
Born in Chitipa on December 29, 1994 Catherine and her sister Tupokiwe were raised in Blantyre by a father who is a teacher and a mother who runs businesses.
The first born of two girls completed her education at Lunzu Secondary School in Blantyre and later studied Human Resource Management at Pact College.
She founded Women for Social Change in 2016 with the keeping girls in school programme which mainly focused on sanitary wear for girls in school. In 2017, it progressed with the ‘100 initiative’ which provides mentorship to the young girls.
“Currently, we are working on the Bold for Change Programme that aims at empowering women entrepreneurs,” she adds.
Women for Social Change is an organisation that has no donors, but she says their sanitary pads projects partly work as a social entreprise.
“We produce sanitary pads and sell to other organisations who in turn give them to girls in schools for free,” she says.
Catherine encourages young women to always dream big, adding that together, it is possible to create a community of strong and successful women.
In her free time, Kita likes to travel.
She says: “Not only does travelling help to build my confidence, but also helps me connect with new people and grow my network. Each time I travel, I realise that there is a new thing that I learn – from food, to language and even culture,” she says.