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The AWF remembers Matilda Mwaba: the Voice of African Women and Sport

The AWF was very shocked and saddened to hear of Matilda Mwaba’s passing on January 11th.

Matilda was Executive Director of the National Organisation for Women and Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation (NOWSPAR) in Zambia, an organisation that she co- founded in 2006. NOWSPAR is a sport focussed civil society organisation dedicated to the advancement of women’s rights in and through sport. The organisation is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world, and has the support of many international organisations and different funding agencies.

Matilda’s influence extended well beyond her home country. A leading proponent of gender equality in sport, Matilda was a widely respected leader in the international women and sport movement. Her advocacy work in Zambia and Africa as Executive Director and Founder of NOWSPAR was much admired. She became Chairperson of the Women Sport Africa Network (WSAN) and represented Africa on the International Working Group on Women and Sport. In essence, she became the voice of African women in sport.

Introduced to Anita through this international work, Anita turned to her for advice when the AWF was setting up a programme for international scholars. With Matilda’s support, Lombe Mwambwa, a colleague of Matilda’s, became the AWF’s first international scholar, initially visiting the archive, meeting key people in the women and sport network in the UK, and helping to plan the Women’s Sport Leadership Academy. Lombe has acted as a facilitator for the Academy and has done much to promote it, ensuring a steady stream of participants from southern Africa. She later enrolled for a PhD at the University of Chichester, which she has recently successfully completed, and remains centrally involved with the AWF as our international advisor. None of this would have happened without Matilda’s initial introduction and her continued support, and is a powerful reminder and example of Matilda’s influence and vision.

Anita remembers Matilda, not only for all she has achieved for women and sport in Zambia and Africa, and her influence on the development of the AWF, but also for her warmth and generosity. She was a powerfully persuasive woman who, in a good humoured way had the ability to take people with her.

She will be sadly missed, but we feel sure that through Lombe and the many other women she has inspired, her legacy will live on in Zambia, Africa, and beyond.

All of us at the AWF feel privileged to have known her and worked with her.

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