As part of International women day commemoration, the Zambian Business Times – ZBT had an interview with Linda Kasonde, one of Zambia’s top legal minds who is also one of the trailblazing women in Zambia. She is a source of inspiration to many due to her strong stance in her values and how she is ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ that many women face not only in the legal fraternity but in the corporate world and many spheres of society.
Linda was elected President of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) in 2016, the first woman to be elected to this position in the history of the Bar Association in Zambia (After 50 years of independence)! She holds an LLB Law Degree from the University of Leicester in England in 2000 and an LLM Degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2007. She was admitted to the Zambian Bar in 2001.
She has a rich working experienced having served as an Advocate at the National Legal Aid Clinic for Women (NLACW), a project under the Women’s Rights Committee (WRC) of the Law Association of Zambia, established in 1990 to ‘provide affordable legal aid for women and children from marginalised social sections in their pursuit of justice.
Amongst her many achievements, Linda rose to the position of Partner in a local law firm in 2009 at the age of 30. In 2014, she became the first female in an ‘established and internationally recognised Zambian law firm to be elevated to the position of named partner.’ Below is how the chat progressed:
Q – How do you define yourself? What 3 words describe you?
Ans – Am a ‘child of God’; ‘I am driven’, ‘focused and determined’.
Q – Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me about them.
Ans – I have a number of people whom I rely on to give me sound advice, people I have worked with over the years. In terms of the women that I would like to emulate, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Thuli Madonsela top the list. They have provided inspiration simply by epitomizing female black excellence through showing strength, competence and confidence. I don’t know any of them yet but I’m working on it.
Q – What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are the goals you most want to accomplish professionally and personally?
Ans – I do my best work when I believe it has purpose and meaning. I have spent a lot of time planning up to this point and want to continue growing by mastering myself. I would like to write a book.
Q – Share with me something about yourself that you’re working on improving, what personal development areas do you have?
Ans – I am working on improving my spiritual growth. As they say, “But for the grace of God go I”.
Q – Did you have any life-defining experiences that shaped you into the person you are today? Tell me about them.
Ans – My tenure at the Law Association of Zambia has been a life-defining experience in many ways. I have learnt a lot about myself and others and I think I have grown immensely as a person. It tested my core values and beliefs in many ways. I am stronger for it.
Q – What is your philosophy in life? What is your favorite quote?
Ans – My philosophy in life is “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. One of my favourite quotes is “Done is better than perfect” by Sheryl Sandberg.
Q – Given a chance to have dinner with 3 people, who would those be and why?
Ans – Martin Luther King Jr. – he’s my greatest inspiration. I have learnt a lot about moral courage through his work.
Oprah Winfrey – she is extremely successful and yet spiritually grounded.
Michelle Obama – for her confidence, assertiveness and charm.
I would be awestruck and probably be too tongue-tied to say anything throughout dinner! (laughs).
Q – What day-to-day habits do you have that make you successful?
Ans – Getting up and showing up no matter what. Daring to take risks, but always calculated ones. Speaking my mind.
Q – How have you managed to overcome the social challenges that may hold women back from reaching their goals?
Ans – It took me several years to find my voice; and now that I have it, only God can take it away from me. I believe that a lack of self-belief holds women back because we’re socialised to be overly cautious and not too outspoken. A lot of bad things have happened because I am a woman who speaks her mind but so many amazing things have happened too. As the old negro spiritual goes, “I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey now”. As I said earlier, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Q – What is the vision for your future? What do you still want to achieve?
Ans – I want to keep using my voice for the betterment of society. I have a passion for women’s empowerment and developing leaders. I hope that I can continue using my talents to do that. Also, I think “Dr. Kasonde” has a nice ring to it.
Q – What advice would you give to your younger self?
Ans – There’s no such thing as a wasted experience. Everything works out as it should. As Nelson Mandela once said, “I never lose. I either win or learn”.