It is a great pleasure to share with you the leadership journey of another distinguished alumna of African Women Leadership Institute. In this exclusive interview, Ms. Josephine Watuulo shares her AWLI experience and how it has influenced her personality and career growth. I hope you too can borrow a leaf or two from her experience and perhaps consider undertaking the AWLI training if you haven’t.
AMwA. Kindly tell us about yourself
Josephine. My name is Josephine Watuulo. An African Feminist who was introduced to feminism including women’s movement building and Women’s rights Advocacy in 2007 during the African Women Leadership Institute(AWLI). I hold a Master’s Degree in Sociology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences. I am passionate about advancing women’s rights and have advocated for the rights of women behind the scenes. Through my work as a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist, I have over the years ensured that all data collection tools, questionnaires, templates, frameworks and institutional M&E strategies have female and male segregation. I have also ensured that this trickles down to the reports and results write-up and dissemination.
AMwA. Which animal character would you best relate yourself to and why?
Josephine.I think for me the cat is one animal that resonates with my character in so many ways; I find it to be beautiful, caring, intelligent, social, warm, welcoming, flexible, loving a team player and helps others to grow, all of which define my personality.
AMwA. “The African Women leadership Institute is said to be a life changing experience for many African women” Do you in any way identify with this statement?
Josephine. Absolutely! Through the AWLI I took with me key learnings that have continued to influence and shape the way I perceive the world in so many ways;
I learnt how to appreciate Human Diversity. That people come from different backgrounds, experience different norms, cultures, and ways of life that shape their character. This in turn determines how they relate to colleagues at the work places, family members and relatives at home, friends and family and community members at social, political, religious gatherings or events.This diversity need not to be only appreciated but also recognized.
The AWLI had participants from over 10 African Countries, with whom we shared meals and hotel; there was 100% degree of interaction during sessions and breaks all which greatly contributed to a cross-cultural interaction and exchange. I am now more comfortable working with people from diverse backgrounds from all over the World.
Public versus Private
I learnt how to balance the public versus private spheres of life. Through the AWLI I learnt to effectively and efficiently do my work to produce results while at the same time be in position to take care of my family and create ample time to socialize or ‘me time’.
We were introduced to the concept ‘me time’ at the AWLI in which we appreciated the need to take care of ourselves in a much deeper and meaningful way. For example today, I can take a two-three day retreat to develop an individual strategic plan for myself. I appreciated my body, mind and soul bringing me to realization of how much we as women and girls have for long been socialized to despise our bodies and sexualities. I learnt how to make myself feel and look good. The ‘me time’ concept went a long way in enhancing my self-esteem, enthusiasm and career growth. It is no surprise that I now have self-confidence to talk on different panels, in interviews, present to large audiences some of which were the most dreaded actions earlier in my career.
AMwA. In your opinion, what would you consider as the greatest achievement for African women in our strife for gender equality since the Nairobi Conference of 1985?
Josephine.There have been a number of achievements through the struggle for gender equality that we ought to celebrate. I have particularly been inspired by the resilience and determination of African women in building a strong women’s movement, in which many organizations including Akina Mama wa Afrika have continued to pool resources and collectively pushed the gender equality agenda forward. As a result we are now seeing more and more visibility of women in spaces which were predominately for male folks; women’s voices are now being heard in places where they were unheard of. And the simple fact that in some institutions and /or companies gender equality is like a given. It’s not much of a debate anymore rather it’s a consideration or key requirement even during recruitment/hiring of new employees.
AMwA. “Uganda just concluded the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections some of which results were contested at the Presidential, Parliamentary and local government level.” In your opinion, what opportunities and /or challenges did the women of Uganda encounter both as candidates/ or even as voters during this election?
Josephine. Reflecting on the elections; I am drawn to state that Ugandan women had the opportunity of an increased awareness among the citizenry of the capability of women to lead and be voted. This is demonstrated by the fact that Uganda has witnessed an increased rise of women parliamentarians up to 35% with a number of them holding executive leadership positions. Therefore this could have in a way enhanced their chances of being elected to leadership. Despite the aforementioned opportunity, Ugandan women still face many challenges, the greatest being the lack of and/ or limited financial resources to run a campaign especially at a time when elections have been commercialized. In addition many Ugandan women have very limited power to access loans and credit compared to men; thus greatly affecting their liquidity or financial capacity which is a major requirement for effectively running campaigns.
AMwA. What is your message for any young African women interested in political leadership?
Josephine. My Message for young African women interested in leadership is wrapped in the following elements;
AMwA. As an expert in M & E what are some of the best practices that women’s rights organizations would learn from to improve their reporting especially in an environment where resources for women’s human rights work is dwindling and competition is high?
Josephine. Monitoring and Evaluation is a value that each organization ought to build into its structure and practices; In improving M & E I would urge organizations to;
AMwA. Which one thing would you want the world to remember you for?
Josephine. I would like to be remembered for having supported individuals to grow to top positions while appreciating gender balance and gender sensitivities.