Rising Woman: How Lilian Liundi rose through the ranks at TGNP

Thursday April 01 2021
Lilian Liundi
By Lilian Ndilwa

Dar es Salaam. When Lilian Liundi first walked into Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP) as a data technician, she did not know that she would one day become the Executive Director of the activist organisation itself a position she has served since 2015.
“I first started working as a librarian at the national Library after finishing my first degree of Library and Information Science at Makerere University, after working as the librarian for not more than two years, I was recruited at ITV/Radio as a librarian before being moved to the marketing department within the media house,” she recalls.
She went back to the Makerere University for post graduate diploma in Computer science to refine her qualification of a data technician.
“When I came back, I got employed at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (Costech) as a database administrator, and then I finally landed my feet at TGNP,” she narrates.
With her experience as the data technician, a field which is highly male dominated, she secretly had a growing interest of working in all women’s space.
“The first day I came at TGNP was to fix their data base, they showed interest in me and so did I, and the history between me and this organisation started from there,” says Ms Liundi.
She ascended the corporate ladder after she was promoted to the position of acting head of program, a challenging yet exciting position which unravelled her potential of being a multitasker.
Ms Liundi, who has worked at TGNP for more than 15 years, says the thought that a thought that she would one day become a feminist leader at an activist organisation never crossed her head.
“I had always dreamt of independency working, I planned to employ myself and indulge in my work, all these thoughts changed when I joined TGNP, the organisation unlocked my leadership spirit and potential,” she says.
She details that her first attempt to be the leader was when she was chosen to represent the nation as well as the whole of TGNP in an international summit when she was acting head of programme.
“It was my first presentation on Gender issues which I had barely understood well by then, and it was that presentation which opened doors for other international and local conferences,” says Ms Liundi.
Ms Liundi details that throughout her career journey, she has had moments that have both shaped and made her question her capabilities as a woman leader as well as a person who has worked in a male dominated sector, information technology.
“There are work places that made me feel that I never belonged in them because of how they were male dominated, the people I worked with sometimes communicated indirectly that I was invading their spaces,” she says.
She says these experiences along with the teachings at TGNP have made her a participatory or infamously inclusive leader and a transformative feminist leader.
“There must be agreement from all corners at the organization, this includes every member of the organization,” says Ms Liundi.
She further explains about transformative feminist leadership whereby TGNP put in place to recognize the potential of every person at the organization and their contribution.
She mentions Theofil Mlaki and Mary Rusimbi as people who have mentored along her career path.
“They helped in popping the bubble of ‘being satisfied with Data and information technology’ as they were assured that I understood that I could be more that what I thought I was,” says Ms Liundi.
She says despite being involved in an activist organization, she also mentor other women, with the target to elevate their abilities.
“Mostly I tend to spot potential when I see it in people, it can be a training session, these people would automatically have different characters to others, I easily notice their interest in the subject, their follow up questions and contribution during the session,” Ms Liundi explains.
She addresses formal trainings in seeking leadership positions, or bettering them, Ms Liundi says formal training does not have to be ‘the centre’ of the position, since it polishes the abilities the informal trainings, including experience itself.
Ms Liundi details that among the reasons for women to rise up the ranks to the top posts is patriarchy system which has negatively affect the society but also the women themselves.
“When a children are born, you must groom them in accordance to what they show interest into, including leadership positions, unlike this it results to women that self-doubt their own abilities to excel, this causes them to not even reach out to opportunities that would automatically make them good leaders,” she explains. She details another cause for women to not rise to top leadership positions as decrease in the number of female students in higher education institutions.
“Female students numbers are known to decrease as they level up in classes, even though population wise they are leading,” Ms Liundi explains.
She further explains that another reason that automatically restrict women in the attainment of leadership positions is the perception that has been set by organisation on women.
“When both a woman and a man have applied for the same job, it is likely that a man will be chosen even when the woman in question is qualified than him because most organizations would think of her gender before her qualification whilst overthinking on when the woman would leave for maternal needs when the woman is not even pregnant at the time,” says Ms Liundi.
She explain that to address this problem, there must be betterment in education system and bringing up children as well as enabling environments for female students to enhance them to focus on studying harder.
Ms Liundi concludes that the role played by women empowerment initiatives must be recognised by the government, which can thereafter create and enforce policies that would protect these initiative from distinction while promoting the implementation of the goals set by the organisers of these initiatives.