Gift Kadzamira: National Commission for Science and technology boss

Gift Kadzamira: National Commission for Science and technology boss

Growing up at an agricultural research station where her parents worked, Gift Kadzamira observed science from a practical point of view.

Her fascination with research motivated her to study for a course in sciences in college.

“My ever hard-working parents were also my role models while female graduates who came to work at the research station were my silent mentors,” she says.

The National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) director general’s career journey in the science world begun at the then College of Medicine as a librarian.

Kadzamira describes it as one full of learning and unlearning experiences.

She learnt how to address challenges along the way, gaining new knowledge, experiences and skills.

“It has been interesting as this is a newish sector that I found myself through serendipity where I have to manage the coordination, supporting, promoting and regulating the  research, science, technology and innovation issues,” she adds.

But Kadzamira quickly adds that the learning doesn’t stop as there are always emerging issues, a lot of networking and creation of partnerships.

“Again I have had to unlearn some preconceived ideas that one grows up with while being open to different perspectives and updating my beliefs when presented with new information,” she observes

Her motivation is also derived from being born and bred in Malawi, appreciating the country’s needs, challenges and resources.

The Presbyterian is one of rare women who challenged Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) studies against the background of lesser women taking a similar path.

“I am a seasoned science, technology and innovation player having been in the industry and at various institutions for over 20 years,” she says.

Kadzamira has a Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in Biology from Chancellor College and a Master of Science degree from Robert Gordon University.

She believes that NCST has a role to ensure that women scientists traverse the male-dominated science world. 

They have programmes to motivate girls and women to do science subjects in schools as well as pursue science careers.

To ensure a reduction of existing inequalities, the commission aims at strengthening gender mainstreaming and women empowerment at all levels to facilitate the attainment of gender equity and equality in Malawi.

Kadzamira says they work with Women in Infectious Diseases and Health Research Network in Malawi who are also aiming at achieving the similar objectives.

The director general notes that globally, 18 percent of girls in tertiary education are pursuing Stem studies compared to 35 percent of boys.

She says even within the Stem fields, there lies a gender divide, with similar numbers of boys and girls pursuing natural sciences while far more boys looked to engineering, manufacturing and construction, according to Unicef, Every Child, 2000 Report. 

He adds: “However, the situation is improving, but there is still more work to be done. This includes the synthesis of our programmes and activities using gender as one of the lenses. 

“It is on this premise that NCST has a project called Gender Equity and Inclusivity to synthesize gender inclusion in the projects that we have funded.”

She boasts of other successes at the commission, including unlocking donor confidence to fund several research and innovation projects such as the Science Granting Council Initiative, the Grand Challenge Initiative and the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Moving Forward Project.

NCST provides innovation grants to grassroots innovators and brokers the granting of a first-ever national Patent for the Unified Electrical Power Amplifier for a local innovator.

According to Kadzamira, they also provide guidance to development of ethical clearance committees as a critical area that enhances research regulation in the country.

She adds that the commission also implements technology and innovation dissemination and transfer programmes to enhance the impact of science and technology on the social and economic development.

“In terms of challenges, we are still ensuring that there is total public understanding of science, technology and innovation [STI] issues  as well as a coordinated approach towards STI to avoid duplication of efforts and also target the efforts  and the scarce resources for  the intended use,” she said.

Kadzamira is daughter to Dr. Charles and Mrs. Ellen Matabwa, twin sister to her only sibling, Luckson and wife to Dalitso Kadzamira.

She is also mother to three children namely Enock and twins, Ellen and Evan.

She is also a committed Presbyterian and a women’s Guild member.

Kadzamira holds several postgraduate qualifications such as leadership in ICT from the African Union, research management, intellectual property rights, gender in science technology and innovation and technology transfer and commercialisation.

She also has a science diplomacy from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Word Academy of Sciences.

Her other qualifications include the technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School.

She is qualified in transformational innovation, transformation and resilience for sustainable development from Lund University in Sweden.

Kadzamira loves to farm, garden and read.

“Right now, I am re-reading the Kane and Abel trilogy by Jefrey Archer. I have also recently fallen into listening to educative podcasts,” she says.

Her family comes from Thyolo, but her parents are settled in Likuni, Lilongwe.

Kadzamira went to St. Michaels Secondary School from where she was selected to Chancellor College.

She believes God has the final say on her future saying: “I will go where God will lead me to as we can only plan and God fulfils. So, let me leave it in the able hands of the Almighty.”

She is satisfied thus far, but not settling as there are still many mountains to be climbed to meet the needs of researchers and innovators to solve the many societal challenges in climate change, agriculture, health and education.

Her advice to women and girls in particular is to always know that it is possible and never be afraid to speak their mind.

“Focus on being who you want to be. Peer pressure is real, but set boundaries, create goals and work towards achieving them. Do not conform to someone else’s idea of popularity,” she concludes.

The post Gift Kadzamira: National Commission for Science and technology boss first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Gift Kadzamira: National Commission for Science and technology boss appeared first on Nation Online.