From kitchen confidence to Local Democracy Champion

In the heart of Zambia, a passionate advocate for local democracy and gender equality is making waves. Meet Humphrey Pailande, a man whose journey from a small family in Kabwe to becoming a force for positive change in Chilanga District is nothing short of inspirational. In this article, we dive into Humphrey’s background, his current role as an Environmental Planner, and the driving force behind his commitment to fostering inclusive communities. We present him in our series Champions of Local Democray 

Humphrey’s story begins in Kabwe, Zambia, where he was raised as the eldest of three boys. His childhood was unconventional, challenging traditional gender roles as his mum single-handedly managed a household full of boys. Household chores and cooking became Humphrey’s domain, defying societal expectations. 

– For me, the kitchen was not a workplace for women; rather, it was a place for any person who needed to eat and stay healthy and be happy regardless of their sex and gender, recalls Humphrey. 

His unique experiences extended to boarding school, an all-male environment that surprisingly equipped him with practical life skills. Humphrey’s upbringing laid the foundation for a mindset that challenges stereotypes and embraces equality. 

University awakening and a shift in perspective 

At the University of Zambia, Humphrey’s worldview expanded. Studying Environmental Management and Education, he encountered the transformative philosophies of gender and ecofeminism. Suddenly, the invisible work of his mother and women in his village became glaringly evident – a realization that reshaped his commitment to creating a more equitable society. 

– I developed a desire to be part of a system that recognized the work of our mothers as equally important as the work done by men, Humphrey shares, reflecting on his university days. 

Championing environmental sustainability 

Fast forward to today, Humphrey serves as an Environmental Planner for the Chilanga Town Council, a role that goes beyond conventional environmental concerns. He reviews impact assessments, conducts education initiatives, and identifies climate risks. Chilanga, an agricultural and mining town, faces gender disparities that Humphrey is determined to address. His commitment extends to formulating gender workplace policies, striving for equal opportunities for all. 

Motivation and the role of ICLD

Humphrey’s dedication to local democracy and gender issues stems from his university days. Introduced to the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD) in 2021, he embraced our Gender Mainstreaming programme. 

“The ICLD programme is a huge milestone in the development of my career,” says Humphrey. He continues to explain “Through ICLD, I honed essential skills like empathy and deep listening, crucial in leading effective change processes.”

The programme not only broadened Humphrey’s understanding of gender issues but empowered him to contribute positively to gender equality within his organisation. Currently spearheading a change process to include persons with disabilities in skills training programmes, Humphrey aims to dismantle barriers and ensure equal opportunities for everyone. 

Humphrey Pailande’s journey is a testament to the power of breaking stereotypes and embracing diversity. From his early days defying norms in the kitchen to his current role as a champion for local democracy and gender equality, Humphrey inspires us all. His story challenges us to rethink traditional roles, advocate for inclusivity, and work towards a society where everyone’s voice is heard, regardless of gender or background. Humphrey Pailande is not just an Environmental Planner; he’s a beacon of change, showing us that empowering individuals leads to stronger, more resilient communities. 

ICLD Champions of Local Democracy 

Gender or status does not matter, the important thing is that the person we are looking for has democratic values to live and inspire others. They may have gotten through difficult situations – but never backed down from the front lines of democracy, and they all have a personal story to tell. They have also been or are part of our operations. We present them in our series “Champions of Local Democracy”. Get inspired! 

Project Area
Inclusive leadership and governance