This year's Malkia wa Nguvu awards were held on Saturday at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam under the theme Ushindi Unakusubiri, Swahili for “victory awaits you.”
Founded in 2004 by the late Ruge Mutahaba of Clouds Media Group, the awards celebrate Tanzanian women achievers from the C-suite to the diamonds-in-the-rough, who are influencing, inspiring and uplifting others in their communities.
This year's ceremony went a step farther by recognising successful women in both formal and informal sectors and also those who are on the path to success.
Aptly named Malkia wa Nguvu, Swahili for mighty queens, the awards seek to recognise visionary women of character from all walks of life who surmount challenges in life to motivate, inspire, build and create wealth, not just for their families, but to drive positive change in their respective communities.
This year's winners were Anna Njavike, an engineer, who won in the retail business category, Aunt Sadaka in the health and social welfare category, Asia Idarous and Miriam Odemba (former Miss Tanzania) in the fashion category and Zuwena Mohamed also known as Shilole in the food business category.
Jessica Mshama, 23, won the Next Malkia category award. Mshama, a business woman and up-and-coming singer started running the family business when she was barely out of her teens, and now at 23 years-old, she manages a supermarket and a host of other business in Dar es Salaam.
Mshama said, “Winning this award is a humbling experience. This award is a big deal for me because it is a challenge not only for me but for my fellow Tanzanians, women and the youth too, that we can be CEOs, starts own businesses and ventures and run them right for the benfit of society.”
Faraja Nyalandu was awarded Inspirational Woman, while the Honour Award was given to Rhobi Samwelly.
The story of Samwelly, who hails from Mugumu, Serengeti, in Mara Region, touched everyone at the event.
A survivor of genital mutilation—still a common practice in Tanzania that has subjected many young girls and women to health and maternal risks—she is a beacon of hope for girls threatened by the practice and is constantly on the move rescuing and educating those affected by FGM.
To date, she has rescued about 900 girls who were either victims or potential victims of FGM, and has built two safe houses in Mugumu and Butiama in western Tanzania for rescued girls where they receive education and life skills.
The diversity in the women selected for the awards was as wide as the women were formidable. The women honoured this year have vowed to continue striving for excellence and leave a ripple effect for those coming up behind them.
The event was graced by Paul Makonda, Dar es Salaam’s Regional Commissioner, who commended all the women for their excellence and said when you hold up a woman, you hold up a nation.
He singled out Samwelly for her efforts and pledged to have a vehicle at her disposal to assist her in her work and the young people under her care.