My name is Wina Sangala, a bold (but will now strive to be bolder) woman of British Malawian heritage who has spent most of my professional life working to try and advance the health sector in Malawi.
What do you do?
Professionally I work with the MHSP-TA programme in Malawi as the Deputy Team Lead. The programme is a health systems strengthening programme to support Malawi to implement is health strategy (and design a new one) through technical assistance and partnerships with Ministry of Health departments, other government agencies and civil society organisations. Strengthening health sector stewardship, enhancing accountability; promoting coordination and aid effectiveness and advocating for the better use of data to inform decision making are some of our key thematic areas.
All the above whilst continually multi-tasking to ensure and maintain a healthy work-life/family balance; my partner is also a professional and we have three children (5, 12 and 14). Finding the time and space for me, myself and I and my wants and needs is also a large part of what I do or want to do. I like to play the piano, do sports (swimming, yoga, horse riding, cycling), reading, traveling, and having that down time to just chill and be.
What does ‘be bold for change’ mean to you?
To be a principled, open-minded, conscientious risk taker; someone who is not afraid to act, to challenge, to make difficult decisions; to speak out in order to make progress/achieve/make a difference. Also to strive to become more knowledgeable and not being afraid to ask when I myself am not sure of the answer. Knowing more by continuously inquiring and learning about the situations we are trying to change which can also help facilitate change and/or find solutions
What is your boldest achievement?
Before I started working on MHSP-TA, I took over the leadership of a programme which had a flawed log-frame and had just scored very poorly during a donor review. The process of highlighting to the donor, in a constructive way all the positives that had been achieved by the programme but NOT captured against the flawed log frame indicators I feel was an achievement, especially as programme closure was a real possibility, which we overcame. On a personal level, one of my boldest achievements was deciding after 20 years to take up the piano again, sit for and pass a diploma in piano music performance with two young children in tow.
What challenges to being ‘bold for change’ do you face in your country?
Corruption happens at all levels, and underpins much of our work. It prevents the country from advancing in the way it could. We need to address and deal with these persistent challenges.
We also have to hold individuals and organisations to account, especially for poor performance, instead of maintaining the status quo or turning a blind eye to zero consequences for poor performance. You need to be bold to work on accountability when it’s not always in the interests of those we are working with, in order to advance the accountability agenda.
What bold actions would you like other people to take, to see a more inclusive, gender equal world?
I would like other people to overcome the fear of the unknown, especially when the “correct” course of action is unquestionable. People need to be bold to be able to constructively question authority at all levels. Women in influential positions need to rally round and support and encourage the advancement of their fellow women. We need to take collective action for change rather than trying to achieve change on an individual level.