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Marsha: I made life-changing decisions to become a leader

Tuesday February 16 2021
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Interim Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact Network Tanzania (UNGCNT), Marsha Macatta-Yambi, speaking at a past event. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Lilian Ndilwa

Dar es Salaam. The visualisation of a society where there is diversity between men and women is what has been driving people and organisations to fight for women’s rights whilst spreading awareness on the matter.
Marsha Macatta-Yambi, Interim Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact Network Tanzania (UNGCNT), talks to The Citizen Rising Woman about embracement of the life-changing decisions she made, and which define the leader that she is as a woman.
 She graduated at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in 1996 and enrolled for post-graduate studies in Health Management, Planning and Policy at the University of Leeds in the US and has been a professional practising pharmacist ever since.

How her career as a leader started
“I started being a leader at Tumaini Hospital where there were four of us, it is located in Upanga, and I helped establishing the pharmacy section and oversaw day-to-day activities,” she said.
The other directors who had the same position as Ms Marsha were also working at Muhimbili National Hospital.
“One of the directors left for further studies in South Africa, so I was then entrusted with the head Director Position,” says Ms Marsha.
After a while, she had arranged for her full stepping down from the position as she had to seek a maternity leave.
“I would sign checks on bed before I fully quit from the post, and it was at that moment I was called in for another position in Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC), an ecumenical body of churches that are the Protestants and the Catholics that oversee the delivery of social services that is health and education in Tanzania,” narrates Ms Marsha.
At the new post, Ms Marsha was the head of Pharmaceuticals support unit where we developed the program called ‘revolving God fund’ that led to establishment of 25 revolving God Funds where there were 21 health facilities and four medical stores.
“At times you get to be in place where it not only allows you to work but shapes you to work in the right direction,” she quotes
Ms Marsha is one of the few women who are living dream, she targeted at being a doctor after being inspired by her uncle.
Little did she know that dreams can be rearranged, as her plans for attending a medical school to be a doctor were redirected to being a pharmacist.
“There was a time where I had to go for further studies on pharmacy, I was able to learn and understand the pharmacy world, and I found the place more fitting and it was at that moment I realized that I wanted to be a pharmacist,” explains Ms Marsha.
She reminisces of the time when she was working two shifts at a community pharmacy at Magomeni suburbs, where her monthly salary was Sh600,000 as well as Sh6,000 that was transport allowance.
“I started saving up by using less of the transport fee and the monthly salary to buy a car, saving does not come easily because alongside it are the hardships,”
Ms Marsha one day walked into a car showroom by then it was called Novo Motors, where the car she selected, a reconditioned Toyota, was being sold at Sh6 million. But she had only Sh2 million at the time.
“I had to convince them to sell me the car, as I promised them that they would receive monthly checks until I paid it in full,” narrates Ms Marsha.
At the same time, she was managing a medical pharmacy that was started in 1998, off the Sh50,000 loan from the community pharmacy at Magomeni.
Ms Marsha recalls entering in meeting rooms full of male leaders for different organisations she worked in and with, the intimidation energy oozed off, as it was calmed by the confidence she has. “There are people who assisted me in building the person the that I am right now, to start with, Dr Fredirick Kigadye, he taught me sharpness in terms of work, that made me to always be prepared, in terms of attire, and work in general,” she says.
Ms Marsha says there are still mentees under her guidance wing, who are currently working in organisations, graduates and university students.
She talks of the opportunities for women to rise in top leadership, Ms Marsha says there are several reasons that enhance the lack of diversity between men and female as it is also the lead cause for women to not rise in top leadership.
“There are self and external reasons that highly cause the lack of diversity between men and women,” says Ms Marsha.
“Societal norms have aligned women with many responsibilities as many women have not had opportunities to higher positions due to maternity leaves and looking out for the children,” she explains
According to Ms Marsha, this is one of the most disturbing case for women, because it has influenced multiple organization to prefer men as leaders than women.
“Gender equality cannot be brought by the desire of rising to the top because rising to the top leadership should be the end result but it is not the means because majority of people putting a woman at the top seat are men,” she says.
Ms Marsha explains that many women at the top positions are glued to posts due to their capabilities and qualities in alignment with the positions themselves.
“The higher positions are entailed with one’s performance and delivery while standing on the ethics and integrity,” she says.
Ms Marsha reveals that formal training for a leadership position always produces a unique breed of leaders.  She says formal training for a leadership position would increase the skills so as they may lead to the betterment.
“All people in leadership positions must know the definition, needs, expectations, demands and qualities of being a leader as well as leading a group of non-official leaders,” Ms Marsha details.  She adds “Every person is a leader despite being a corporate position, because everyone has a group of people looking up to them.”
Ms Marsha speaks of the ways to sustain women empowerment initiatives that for any initiative to develop beyond being ‘an Initiative’ it must be backed by policy and proper assessment of roles played within it.
“There must be a policy, stakeholder assessment and finance sustenance of the initiative itself because you must enrol, reinvigorate and revive so as to keep the initiative a never ending project,” she details.
She says that she prioritises self-care, whereby she often prays, revises everything she would have done through the day - and self-reflection.