Celebrating Women in CSR – Selina Nyirenda Kanyuka
We continue our series of “Celebrating Women in CSR“, to celebrate the achievements of women and inspire all of us under the theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, with yet another interview of Selina Nyirenda Kanyuka, the Community Liaison Officer from Munali Nickel Mine operated by Mabiza Resources Limited.
What is your background and how did you get into CSR?
My names are Selina Nyirenda Kanyuka, currently working for Mabiza Resources Limited operators of Munali Nickel Mine as Community Liaison Officer. I currently acquired my master’s in environmental management with my thesis focusing on Sustainability practices and Corporate Social Responsibility in manufacturing industries. I have been into CSR for close to 8 years now, with experience from both the private and public sector.
What are you passionate about in your work?
I’m very passionate about social interactions within local communities and creating a memorable impact on their lives. Community engagement and stakeholder consultancy is key for me as it helps strengthen relations between ourselves and various stakeholders particularly the community. For instance, in 2021, the mine through stakeholder engagement was able to facilitate for two student teachers from the UK that conducted a reading project at Munsangu Primary and Secondary School, a local school, donated a sum of K100,000 and in excess of 200 reading books to the school. The K100,000 was contributed towards the construction of a girl’s hostel at the school.
Could you share one or two challenges you have experienced in your career around CSR and how you overcame them?
The Challenge of unforeseen costs and high implementation costs that arise during or before execution of projects or initiatives.
This has been overcome by simply increasing the budget for CSR projects for the year 2022 and an allocation of emerging opportunities was introduced alongside the main budget. Emerging opportunities cater for eventualities that were not planned for in the budgets. These two budget allocations have reduced on the delay of implementation of CSR initiatives due to high costs or the risk of projects being abandoned mid-way.
What has been the biggest challenge you faced in your work during COVID19? How did you overcome it?
Covid-19 has not spared any organization. Most CSR activities at Munali Nickel mine had to be slowed down. Physical interactions in the community were briefly stopped at the increase of the pandemic. However, the company has proactively engaged in various CSR activities, particularly in the fight against COVID-19 such as donating of face masks, sanitizers, and disinfectants to local schools. CSR activities have since been carefully evaluated prioritizing which activities can be undertaken with strict guidelines being followed.
What can we do to empower more women to come to the CSR forefront and lead the social and/or environmental impact?
There is need to invest more in women empowerment programs within local communities. Intensifying more on sensitizations and encouraging women to break free from their traditional roles and gender stereotyping.
What is one thing you wish you had been told when you were starting out that you know now?
In community service, its not just the big leaps that count. I wish I knew that It’s not just big steps or rather projects that will create a big impact on the community. Now I have come to realize that small steps have the power to make big changes. What we deem as little and meaningless steps create an impact on some individual out there.
What advice would you give to a woman starting her career or involvement in CSR today?
Develop CSR initiatives that relate to the challenges and needs of the community. Ensure the initiatives are attainable.
This International Women’s Day, what is the message that you would like to give out to young women who aspire to break the glass ceiling?
For every woman that wants to do exploits, believe in yourself. You can do more than you think. Don’t let anyone or any surrounding situation limit or define you.