How women leaders as game-changers


What you need to know:

  • Fatma Kauga - the holder of a Master of Science in Finance and Investment degree, and a Bachelor of Science in Taxation degree - is a strong believer in education as a tool to eradicate poverty in Africa. Speaking to The Citizen she says, she is “very passionate about youth and women’s potential to bring positive change in the world.”

QUESTION: How did you get to where you are today in your leadership position?

ANSWER: My leadership journey started when I was young. I served as a member of the Tanzania Children’s Council representing Mwanza Region to the parliament committee as we went to submit children’s opinions on how we wanted to be involved in the national election of 2005. Concurrently, I was also presenting a radio program of Sauti ya Watoto that aimed at advocating children’s rights and responsibilities. I went on and became the head girl during my high school and also the first female deputy speaker in the students’ representative council when I was doing my undergraduate education. I served as the Director of Finance and Administration for more than six years at a reputable non-government organization that specialises in creating digital educational solutions for primary and secondary school students. I currently sit as the board of directors and treasurer of different non-government and civil societies organizations in the country. Following my work in the education sector, women, and youth involvement, I was listed among the 100 Tanzanian ‘Sheroes Award’ in 2020 and also awarded honorary citizenship in Boone, North Carolina, USA 2021.

Did you know where you wanted to be?

I always knew what I believe in and am passionate about without a doubt. The question for me was how would I serve to fulfil my passion and belief. I spent all of my childhood and professional career navigating ways to accomplish that in different roles.

Can you tell our readers a little about those experiences? Like: what was the most vulnerable moment of your life, your career?

At 25, I was employed as the Finance and Administration Manager and then promoted to Director of Finance and Administration. Three months later I had a top leadership role. I did not have enough experience and required exposure for the role. It felt like I had dropped into a deep sea. Rising to the occasion and serve the role accordingly was the only option I had. Immediately I enrolled myself for a Master’s degree as the foundation process of seeking knowledge needed for the role. I also took part in different leadership programmes both within and outside the country. With the combination of the knowledge and my personal given skills, I managed to successfully perform exceptionally. I operated in this position for more than six years, then I started my organization last year.

What is your leadership style? And how did you find out about it?

My leadership style is transformation. I believe in creating more leaders like Fatma; the more, the merrier. It gives me so much joy to see team members grow and perform to their fullest potential.

Many people struggle to find a mentor or support to help them in their career journey. Did you ever receive any form of mentoring on the way?

I am grateful for having incredible people as mentors and coaches throughout my career. These people play a crucial role in my leadership development. They have dedicated their time to help me navigate the challenges I encounter in my leadership.

You are mentoring other women as well. What do you look out for before you commit to mentoring relationships with any person?

Through Doyenne, I am mentoring young girls who are in university and high school to become leaders and develop a future generation of female leaders through equipping young girls with the leadership skills needed to achieve global development, advance their communities, in their leadership journey.

What about formal training? For those who want to be leaders, do you advise that they get any formal training on how to lead?

I am very grateful for the leadership development and fellowship programmes I attended. They have sharpened my skills, exposed me to new experiences and provided me with a network of people from different professions in the world. I am a Mandela Washington Fellow class of 2021, Gratitude Network Fellow class of 2020, the Young Emerging Leaders Project class of 2019, Perennial Leadership Fellow class of 2019, and Cordes Fellow class of 2018.

I highly encourage those who aspire to become leaders to utilize such opportunities. After I attended those leadership programmes, I realized the need to have leadership programmes tailored to empower young girls in high schools and universities to help them test their potential and realize themselves as the next generation of leaders and therefore designed the Niongoze Fellowship Programme under Doyenne Organization.

What do you think is causing the lack of diversity in top leaderships? Why are women not rising to the top?

Leadership has no gender. Unfortunately, leadership roles are socially constructed to best-fit men. This society’s gender role beliefs - and how women’s roles are perceived - contributed to the factors such as low confidence and self-esteem, uneven access to formal education and opportunities, and lack of leadership skills make the idea of leadership parity hard to achieve. This ideology plays a vital role in bridging gender disparity in leadership roles. Women do not trust themselves to take the roles; and men do not believe in women’s capacity to lead. So, eventually, lack diversity in top leadership. I commend Mwananchi Communications for this initiative, as it gives women a platform to showcase their potential and inspire the young generation of women in our country.

What can women do to take these matters into their hands - and change the situation?

Women need to strive to have both quantity and quality women leaders. We need to seek knowledge and qualify ourselves through acquiring education and leadership skills; this will give us the required qualifications to bring change.

What do you think is the best strategy to sustain women empowerment initiatives to last for posterity?

I think what we are doing at Doyenne Organization is the best approach to sustain women empowerment initiatives, especially in leadership, because we are nurturing leadership talents at a young age while they are still pursuing their academic courses. Doyenne’s programmes are designed for scale, and can be used and adapted in either educational institutions or organizations within and outside the country as a tool for developing later generations of female leaders.

How did you develop this leadership confidence - and voice?

Everything I am today as a leader is the product of a collection of everything I have exrienced in my life.

This includes the people I have met, the places I have been, and the things I have learned. It is a gradual process that comes from the determination of wanting to become a better version of myself every day.

Can you tell us more about self-care, and how do you accomplish it as a leader?

As a leader I know that I can not serve from an empty vaseself-care is as important as the cause and people I serve. Therefore, I ensure to have self-practice that keeps me mindful and grounded. In my daily schedule, I make a point to at least do workouts, meditate, and pray as a routine to keep me balanced and aligned.

What three pieces of advice do you have for your younger self?

My younger self evolved from the realm of perfectionism. So one piece of advice I would offer is to understand that life is a plain field. It’s alright to make mistakes and learn from them. It can never always be perfect.