Annet Kyokutamba joined Mazuri Designs, a social enterprise under Girl Up Initiative Uganda, as a volunteer in 2015 and was later promoted to a full-time seamstress in 2016. Annet also serves as a trainer in the Sewing Our Futures project that aims to equip young women with vocational skills in sewing, tailoring and fashion design.
Annet is passionate about her work because she believes that developing the skills and creativity of young women will enable them to start up businesses that will help them become economically independent. Get to know Annet more in our interview below!
1. What is your favorite part about working at Girl Up?
My favorite part about working at Girl Up is the togetherness amongst us. My work place is my second home. My workmates are really very caring and friendly. I also love being on my sewing machine. When on my machine, I feel very peaceful. I really enjoy making bags and while I am working, I keep telling myself that I am going to make a beautiful product.
2. What’s one of your special skills or ‘super powers’ you bring to the Girl Up team?
I am very good at making bags. I can make any type of bag – be it a cross bag, a laptop bag, a backpack, a travelling bag and so many others. I can also make many other products like dresses, tops, skirts, but when it comes to bags, I am super good at it.
3. Why are you passionate about this work?
I am passionate about this work because I believe that through this work we can create change. I train a group of young women and girls in the Sewing Our Futures project, which equips them with vocational skills so that they can become economically empowered.
4. Why is this work needed?
This work is needed to really make an impact in the lives of different young women and girls.
Through this work, we have witnessed young women becoming empowered and being able to sustain themselves without having to be dependent on others. I will use myself as an example. Previously, I was dependent on my family members, but when I acquired my skill, I used that to get me to where I am today.
5. What frustrates you about the gender inequality and poverty that you see every day?
What frustrates me is the fact that women are often excluded from the development process, yet they can contribute to it as well. I believe women should be engaged in different programs, and this will help eliminate the gender gap between men and women and help eradicate poverty.
6. What is your vision for the future… for these girls and women, boys and men; for Uganda; for the world?
I envision a world where girls and women are more creative, innovative and independent. I also envision a world where boys and men work together with girls and women to support each other.
7. What is your role in creating that future?
I want to reach out to more young women and girls so that I can train and equip them with skills to sustain themselves. I also want to go back to my home district and train the young women and girls there and share my knowledge with them. The majority of them did not have a chance of going to school, so acquiring such a skill would be so good for them.
8. Is there something special you’re highlighting or celebrating this month?
Yes. I am celebrating the gift of motherhood that I have been blessed with. I am approaching my 9th month of my pregnancy. It is really something worth celebrating because I am a first time mother. My team at work has been super supportive and I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to them.
*Annet gave birth to a healthy baby girl on March 30th and is currently on her maternity leave.
9. What do you enjoy doing/eating/exploring outside of Girl Up?
I enjoy listening to music and watching movies. For the music, any kind can do for me but with the movies, I really enjoy Indian movies.
10. What is a fun fact about you?
I am not really a good dancer but there is a way I find myself on my feet when I hear the sound of a song. I don’t know how it all starts, but I just find myself dancing along and pulling moves that I did not imagine myself doing.