Julieta Muinga, a woman of change: Case Study on women’s leadership


Julieta lived with her five children who each have a different father. Each man abandoned her once she fell pregnant, except the last one, who died of disease. Raising her children was always difficult. There had been no help and for years and years she had looked for alternative ways to feed the children. One way she found was to travel long distances to offer her services as a maid. She washed, starched and cleaned but barely earned enough money to cover her transportation.  She arrived home in the evening after leaving her children alone during the day. This scared her when one of her daughters got badly burned when the elder tried to cook something to eat.

The community and particularly the head of the block monitored this situation daily and noted that, despite Julieta’s struggle, she always demonstrated great responsibility in her conduct, leading and managing her home with pride. She never showed joy but always had the air of a “woman fighter”. The community recognized these qualities.

2009: The Change in the life of Julieta

The neighborhood of Chamanculo “C” was chosen in the baseline survey for a sanitation block, water point and clothes washing sinks. The community gathered to celebrate the good news and the head of the Bairro heard the explanation of the benefits of the project and called for collaboration and participation in the management of the sanitation block. The community chose Julieta. She is very happy to be the manager of the water-point.

Julieta is thrilled, cries, and asks herself: why me? Is it because of my suffering? Am I the black spot in the neighborhood? What is the reason that leads me to be chosen in this community? The head of the block realizing the restlessness of Julieta explains: “Julieta is chosen by how she strived to survive and support her family. We are trying to create an opportunity for all of us here to work together to minimize the suffering we’re going through. Another resident commented: “you are a patient woman and responsible”.

Julieta then accepted the task of controlling the water. The residents contributed a value of 500.00 mt ($16) for her to purchase water and start reselling as agreed with the community.

Julieta makes this business successful due to her responsibility and management capacity.


She is much happier because the income that is left from the resale helps improve her family nutrition; she now has time to rest and devote time to her child because the others are away from home working. She now has money to improve their food and clothing. When her children visit her, she is now proud to be able to provide a decent meal.  Her life quality has improved. “Water management strengthens me in my knowledge. I am truly a person safe and ready to assist and cooperate forever with my community.  And I don’t doubt my abilities.”

This post was written by Nacima Figia, WSUP Gender Coordinator under ACF-program.

Gender Coordinator Nacima talking with Julieta

About Andy Narracott

Urban water and sanitation professional. Programme Coordinator for the USAID African Cities for the Future Programme.
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1 Response to Julieta Muinga, a woman of change: Case Study on women’s leadership

  1. Tara Ranchol says:

    An example among so many in Mozambique of courage, perseverance in trying to overcome adversity after having to confront fear, conflict. They are people with families, dreams which they have to abandon in a desperate search of safety.

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