Submitted by Joanita Babirye
Hi Friends, I am Joanita Babirye from Uganda; a young and emerging leader supporting young undervalued women in the rural communities of Uganda. I am a recent graduate of urban and Regional planning and an environmental activist, so passionate about environmental and social justice. I love singing, story writing, playing the guitar, reading and listening to music. I am a jolly person!
I am always challenging myself in the need to change the world. My questions connected to Inclusive Leadership are: “How about if each and every person in areas such as Uganda undertook a basic course in understanding inclusiveness? Would learning about inclusion help with building the bridges between different people with different identities? Would we learn not to be harsh while connecting with different people? Would this lead to a society where everyone is welcomed?”
I have engaged with different community based organizations and Youth Agencies where I have served as both a peer educator and a youth advocate. I am a youth ambassador under Tunza Eco-generation and a Nile fellow leader.
I recently started up a Community Based Organization; Rainbow Smiles Foundation, to support young undervalued women who are victims of teenage pregnancies and child marriages. These girls have lost hope, respect and dignity. The response to cases of teenage pregnancies is to actually chase them out of home. When a girl is able to avoid being married off by force into a child marriage, they go into hiding or move to urban areas where they get involved in challenging activities to get a livelihood. They are discriminated by their families and societies that are pointing fingers at them; they feel they are worthless for any good thing in the community so they become vulnerable to more challenges.
The main focus of all the activities we are doing is restoring hope to these victims of teenage pregnancies and child marriages. Through home visits, teaching, counselling, livelihood projects, telling their stories for change, and reintegrating them with their families, we guide them in redefining their purpose and realizing their potential. We are rehabilitating a few who we feel are in urgent need. This approach involves so much time and effort from both the team and the girls themselves to realize their worth and close their ears to what society has conditioned them to be. We have many other activities that we hope to do, including a plan for a bigger rehabilitation center and plans for taking many girls back to school. (School of Vision) and these will be the voice to other girls in the different communities and so will be the fulcrum of change and inclusion.
I am so glad to be part of this Discover Your Inclusive Leadership Potential course and this international Inclusive Leadership Community. I am amazed by the enthusiasm here (and my expectations are so high!). I am eager to get to the upcoming modules as I enrich my knowledge and share my experiences further. In Module 2, we received a map of the field of Inclusive Leadership and journaled about our connections to this map. This activity has been thrilling. The entire map is so essential for our Inclusive Leadership journey. I am appreciating the processes of journaling and putting my whole understanding and feelings about this course into my daily life, and my life as a leader in my society.
The more I learn, the more I am realizing that education on inclusion is so important in areas like Uganda where there are various tribes. Each person is affiliated to a different tribe with little or no awareness about the need for inclusiveness among people. Most of the time people find it hard to connect with people that are not in their tribal affiliation and tend to misunderstand other people’s beliefs and affiliations, with some tribes describing themselves as superior to the others. It is so unfortunate that this is happening. The most striking part so far into the inclusive leadership course is the fact that I got to know that differences are actually gifts. I am hoping to learn a lot about Anti-Discrimination First Aid as I go further into this course!
I am also wondering about the questions I asked at the beginning of this article:
- How about if each and every person in areas such as Uganda undertook a basic course in understanding inclusiveness?
- Would learning about inclusion help with building the bridges between different people with different identities?
- Would we learn not to be harsh while connecting with different people?
- Would this lead to a society where everyone is welcomed?
I have partnered with a few of my friends on these goals and I am still looking for more to join the cause. Having many people speaking the same “Inclusive Leadership” language would actually be essential since with that we expect a bigger impact. Perhaps after attaining in depth knowledge through this course, I can definitely be a good Inclusive Leader! It is my hope that, in the long run, the marginalized/ undervalued girls will thrive to be inclusive leaders in their communities and change the narrative.