In 2015, Gloria Komukama joined our Girl Up Initiative Uganda team as Program Assistant and later she was promoted to Program Officer for our flagship program: the Adolescent Girls Program (AGP). She was GUIU’s first full-time staff member managing the AGP. The AGP is an in-school program that focuses on building adolescent girls’ capacities for individual empowerment and social survival especially in patriarchal environments that do not value and respect the rights of girls and women. We invite you to get to know Gloria a little better.
1. What is your favorite part about working at Girl Up?
My favorite part about working at Girl Up is the girls! The community that Girl Up reaches out to is uniquely inspiring and the girls in the Adolescent Girls Program make meaning for me. Because of the relationship I have with the girls being my friends, I will go an extra mile to be there for them. The environment at Girl Up is also conducive - my workmates are relatable and we dream as a team at Girl Up and we believe that anything is possible when you are determined to achieve it.
2. What’s one of your special skills or ‘super powers’ you bring to the Girl Up team?
My resilience makes it easy for me to do a lot of things that contribute to achieving the goals of the organization and being able to relate with beneficiaries positively.
3. Why are you passionate about this work? Why is this work needed?
I am passionate about this work because my own past life experience relates with it a lot. I went to a UPE school and grew up in the same community like these girls. I had experiences of being bullied and teased leading to self-esteem issues. I consider myself fortunate to be a mentor to the girls because I understand what their challenges are.
I am also lucky that the girls trust us like their own sisters; they open up and talk about their issues which gives us space to help them overcome their issues. What makes me even more passionate about the work is the fact that it tackles real, factual, and practical issues of the communities.
4. What frustrates you about the gender inequality and poverty that you see everyday?
I wouldn’t use the term frustration for gender inequality because the concept is more intentional than involuntary in the way that it manifests in our local communities. Very many stories will show that, considering cultural practice, patriarchy and these other fueling factors to gender inequality, women and men alike continue to create space for it to survive. Personally, I believe gender inequality is perspectival and that is why its rates differ in different communities.
I like that the Ni-Yetu Youth Program hosted by Girl Up Initiative Uganda focuses on behavioral and social norm change, which is a deep and effective approach to gender inequality. It might seem like a slower process but the challenge we are dealing with is equally gigantic and influencing nurture cannot be done by say, a two days campaign.
About poverty, it is inevitably political and for the communities we are in, susceptibility comes quicker because of the lack of social skills. The social skills that we teach at Girl Up give you hope through opening your mind to possibilities and gets you motivated not to drown in your problem (poverty). Poverty is like having HIV, you may not be killed by the virus itself but then you are killed by your perspective of self: how prone you are to stigma and all these other controllable issues. It is unfortunate that it is there.
I get heartbroken when girls can’t be who they want to be because of poverty, but that doesn’t mean the end of life.
5. What is your vision for the future… for these girls and women, boys and men; for Uganda; for the world?
I look forward to a culture where social interactions are challenged even further without causing imbalances in gender or making sexes feel left out, where women and men make decisions that are rationally ethical. Most importantly, a future where girls are able to live their dreams because they were given the opportunities they deserve.
6. What is your vision for your role in creating that future?
I am devoted to seeing the change that I want to see and open to all relevant opportunities and possibilities that are engaging to make that happen. I am a big fan of prayer so I will keep praying to God for everyone and everything that contributes to the great future.
7. Is there something special you’re highlighting or celebrating this month?
I am celebrating life. I am celebrating having completed 3 years of my undergraduate degree at Makerere University in Human Rights. My girl Kasey’s birthday, being on the plane for the first time, opportunities to give back to the community and so much more.
(Photo: Gloria and friends celebrating their graduation from Makerere University)
8. What do you enjoy doing/eating/exploring outside of Girl Up?
I enjoy spending time alone to reflect. I love eating organic food. Exploring. I like finding and doing fun things that I have not done before. Currently, I am venturing to learn roller skating and riding a motorbike.
9. What is a fun fact about you?
I am a very fast, yet disciplined driver and I always say a short prayer before I start the engine.
At Girl Up Initiative Uganda, we are so grateful for Coach Gloria’s dedication towards empowering, supporting, and mentoring the Girl Up girls. She is a lively trainer and has alreaydy changed the lives of so many girls growing up in Kampala.