Monica Nyiraguhabwa is the Co-Founder and Executive Director Girl Up Initiative Uganda. She oversees all programs, finances, human resources, and management of the organization in Uganda. Monica is also an experienced inspirational and motivational speaker who impresses crowds with her powerful voice through which she tells her personal and professional story. She leads with a calm strength, intuitive understanding of each staff member, and indestructible commitment to ensuring that every girl knows that she matters and has a voice. Get to know our team leader, Monica, better in our interview below!
1. What is your favorite part about working at Girl Up?
My favorite part is when I go into the communities and schools and engage with the adolescent girls. For me, it brings back so many beautiful memories of my childhood and just being young again, which is priceless for me.
2. What’s one of your special skills or ‘super powers’ you bring to the Girl Up team?
One of my super powers is being able to offer strategies for the work we do and always being very clear on how we can achieve it. My best skill is thinking very deeply around the issues and working around this reality to develop programs and keep on building the strategies that we need to get to where we need to be.
3. Why are you passionate about this work? Why is this work needed?
I am passionate about this work because I believe the world needs to put attention on the issues that affect girls and women, especially in under-served communities. I think this work is very important because if we are to solve global challenges we need to make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind including girls.
I know there is a temptation to think that girls are still young, but they have a voice and they deserve to be in spaces where they can interact and figure out what they want for themselves.
I believe for us to grow in the continent we need to make sure that girls are brought on board.
4. What frustrates you about the gender inequality and poverty that you see every day?
What frustrates me around gender inequality is that:
For us to achieve gender equality or equity we need a lot of patience.
Sometimes you feel like you have done a lot of work, but the progress is really very slow and that can sometimes be very frustrating. However, it is important to appreciate that we are doing so much that is slowly dismantling patriarchy and all the systems that promote discrimination. It can be really frustrating that you put in so much, but you achieve little. It doesn’t mean we are not achieving, but a little bit of patience is needed.
5. What is your vision for the future… for these girls and women, boys and men, for Uganda, for the world?
My vision for the future is to have a world free of violence, a world where we embrace love and not discrimination and hate, a world which is one without borders, a world with people who believe and support each other.
6. What is your vision for your role in creating that future?
My vision for my role in creating this future is to lead with clarity and authenticity and to be an example of what love, giving, and sharing means.
7. Is there something special you’re highlighting or celebrating this month?
I am celebrating my birthday today, which also doubles as Girl Up Uganda’s 6th birthday because on this day we birthed the idea of Girl Up.
I have also been able to use my vocal ability to bring attention of the girls and women in the communities we serve as Girl Up Initiative Uganda to the global platform.
I am also very excited that there is an increase in conversation among global leaders and the philanthropy world about the need to work with grassroots champions and leaders because if we are to create sustainable and long-term change then we need to start from the grassroots.
I am very happy that the world is beginning to acknowledge the role of grassroots leaders in leading change in their communities.
8. Do you have any children? If so, what are their names? How old are they?
I have so many children, I am a mother of nine adopted girls and one biological son. The girls range from the ages of twenty two to six years old.
9. What do you enjoy doing/eating/exploring outside of Girl Up?
I enjoy doing fitness and going to the spa to make sure that I refresh. I also take myself out to feel good. I also enjoy dancing and traveling to different places.
10. What is a fun fact about you?
The fun fact about me is that I can dance until the music drops!