BEING A WOMAN MEANS PROVING YOU CAN DO THE JOB
…even if you can do it better than a man
By TAWANDA MUNYUKI
ONE thing I believe in is that women are able to do any kind of work and now is the time for us to start so that we are able to show the young girls out there that it is possible to do and be anything they want.
These are the words of Memory Mumba Mwansa, a secondary school teacher, a business woman and a tile fixer.
Memory is an ordinary lady who strived to break the belief that there is work meant only for men. She is a secondary school teacher specialised in Literature, Religious Education and English.
Memory, who is also a single mother of one, says women should not feel intimidated to get in male-dominated fields because that is the only way barriers will be broken to empower the future generation of young girls.
Business wise Memory is the CEO of Momo Designs as well as Momo Eats.
Momo Designs are a clothing business where she sells clothes and shoes for men and children, while Momo Eats is all about food.
She prepares and delivers delicious home-cooked meals to people every time schools close.
“I am a kind of person who wants to use every opportunity presented to me and because of that whatever I do, I put in my very best especially that apart from being a teacher and a business woman , I am also a tile fixer, an industry that many people thought was for men only,” she says.
Memory says her daughter is her motivation to work hard and strive to do her best in everything.
She says she is not in the tile fixing industry to compete with the men but to merely show that there is nothing like men’s and women’s jobs but simply jobs that can be done by people with interest and will to do .
“I am not here to compete with the men, all I want is to help people understand that there is no need to attach gender to jobs. A job is a job and anyone willing to work can do any type of job they want.
“It is high time we got rid of the notion that some sectors are for men and others are for women. If a man wants to do catering let them and if a woman wants to do also let them be because careers have absolutely nothing to do with one’s gender,” she said.
Q: when you were young what did you want to become?
A: I actually wanted to be three things, an engineer, a nurse and a teacher and since my family could not afford to take me to study engineering or nursing I settled for teaching which was what my family could afford.
Q: How do you find teaching?
A: Well its exciting and at first I used to volunteer, then I managed to find a job at a private school in Lusaka until recently when my name was among those that were recruited by the government thankfully and now I am a confirmed civil servant but before that as I was volunteering, that is when I started my business of selling clothes for men and children.
QUESTION: How did you find yourself as a tile fixer?
ANSWER: I met the person I’m working with from someone who asked me if I could show them where I buy the shoes I sale, and I refused but despite that we continued chatting and we eventually became friends and one day he posted tiles and I also got into his inbox and for some reason I was just curious about learning about tiles.
So from there, we concluded that I tell him where I order the shoes and he tells me more about the tile business and I would follow him to where he was working just to observe how he was working.
QUESTION: Why the interest in tile fixing though…. of all things to be interested in, why tiles?
ANSWER: I think it’s because I had wanted to be an engineer earlier in life but it just did not work out but I guess the desire was still there so tile fixing was the closest I could get to being an engineer and the fact that I had someone willing to teach me for free for me it was a plus so I made sure I paid attention to learn.
QUESTION: Do you remember your first project as a tile fixer, what was it like and how did it make you feel?
ANSWER: Of course I remember, I was super proud of myself because I did very well …It was in February 2018 and it was this house in Chilenje that my same friend was working on and I had gone with him so I asked if I could also put tiles and he said yes. I did a bit and we were both impressed with what I could do so he gave me a whole room to fix tiles and I managed.
QUESTION: So how has been your journey as a tile fixer so far?
ANSWER: Truth is, the journey has been a lot of things. Firstly I learn every day to do and get better in tile fixing but it is also a challenge because some people just do not want to trust me to do work for them just because I am a lady, they judge me even before they could see what I am able to do just because tile fixing is considered to be for the men and as such I have to prove myself to everyone that I can also deliver.
QUESTION: How do you manage to convince such people that you are equal to the task?
ANSWER: The person I work with trusts me and when people see the work that I am able to do they loosen up so what I do is I just show people my work and it is able to speak for me and that is how I have managed to gain more clients because even if they doubt me at first, when I deliver they are impressed and they start recommending me to other people.
QUESTION: what are some other challenges you have encountered on a daily basis in your journey as a female tile fixer
ANSWER: I think for starters it’s getting clients because sometimes when I post my work on social media, some people would question if the work is really mine and I find that to be offensive because I work hard and calling me a slay queen faking pictures, the other challenge also the fact that most times getting contracts is all about who you know and that is a challenge because everyone wants to work with connections and it is hard for us who are just starting and also the fact that tile fixing is not my full time job. It is challenging because at times a client wants me to do tiles and I’m not available because I have classes to teach so that is also challenging.
The other challenge is that there are some clients who when you tell them the products to use and how much they cost they just don’t buy it because they always want something cheaper and that is a challenge for me because I know the quality that is needed for me to do proper work but some people just want to buy cheap materials and sometimes it is challenging to work with low grade materials but I try my best to convince them anyway.
QUESTION: Despite the challenges you have told us about, are there any successes that you are able to point out to say as a female tile fixer I have been able to do this and that?
ANSWER: Yes, the biggest success for me is the fact that I have over the years been able to improve my tile fixing skills and I’m getting better every day and now I can work even when my colleague is not there and also the fact that I have been able to gain some clients who truly trust me to do the work and also just seeing that there are women who come to me to ask if I can teach them how to fix tiles , for me that is a success because then it shows there is something I’m doing right.
QUESTION: Do you have plans of going to learn more about tiles?
ANSWER: Definitely, I want to be as professional as possible and that is why I want to get qualifications and I’m sure that way I will even be able to gain a lot of confidence from the more clients.
QUESTION: Do you have a strategy for ensuring your safety when you are working, seeing that you are required to go to your clients’ houses.
ANSWER: I usually do not go alone, I move with someone just for security purposes but most importantly I always ensure that I create a good rapport with the clients so that I’m able to trust them.
QUESTION: What advise do you have for the young girls out there?
ANSWER: To the young girls out there, do not give up, do not let society tell you that you cannot do a certain job because it is for men only, you can always be whatever you want.
QUESTION: Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
ANSWER: To be teaching of course, growing my business and also just have my own company for tile fixing and hire as many women as I can to join in tile fixing because that is one way we can always lift up one another as women.