Getrude Mwiba has over 10 years of experience in environmental conservation. Her passion for forestry was ignited during childhood forest excursions with her father, and she now plays a crucial role in community mobilisation and conservation education with By Life Connected. Getrude shares her insights into the core values that guide her work.

Despite the significant role women play in both household management and our local economies, they often face substantial barriers in governance structures in Zambia. Throughout my career as a forester, I have witnessed first-hand the integral roles women fulfil in their communities and in environmental stewardship. It is my firm belief that they should be given every opportunity to participate more actively.

As someone deeply engaged with environmental concerns, I see the forest not just as a resource but as a lifeline for many African communities, especially for women. Forests provide firewood, medicinal plants, and food—essentials that sustain our daily lives and the health of our families. Recognising this vital connection, I am committed to advocating for the sustainable management of these forests and actively including women in these processes.

My journey in the Kafue Landscape began in 2008 when I started volunteering as a Community Resource Board member, and I have been active in community-based natural resource management ever since. In 2019 I was one of the first people to join the By Life Connected team. This path has taught me the immense dedication needed to drive real change in community initiatives. We need perseverance and passion, especially in projects focused on environmental conservation and empowering women.

Throughout my career, I have adhered to four core values that have shaped my approach to work and life:

Making informed decisions: Knowledge is power. It connects us to others and is essential for making informed decisions. By ensuring access to information, we empower individuals to participate more fully in their communities and conservation efforts.

Having a voice: Having a voice is crucial. It allows us to express our needs, desires, and the changes we want to see in our community. This empowerment is particularly significant for women, whose perspectives are often underrepresented.

Critical Thinking: Embracing critical thinking means we remain open to questioning and innovation, which are vital for solving the complex problems we face. This value encourages us to challenge the status quo and seek better solutions.

Be accountable: Ensuring transparency and responsibility in managing resources is crucial for building trust within the community. Accountability fosters a culture of integrity and honesty – essential for the success of any community initiative.

These values are not just personal; they are crucial for any community looking to address environmental challenges and advance governance effectively. They guide my daily work and interactions, reinforcing the importance of inclusivity and sustainability.

Every day, I am reminded of the profound connection between women and their natural environment, and the critical need for their active participation in conservation and leadership. We must advocate for inclusive practices and recognise the benefits that these bring to the sustainable management of natural resources. With a commitment to my core values—information, voice, critical thinking, and accountability—I continue to work towards transformative change to pave the way for a future that works for all.