June 13, 2022

After AWLI, My Political Dreams No Longer Scare Me!

An interview with Ayikoru Patience Poni - a 2021 AWLI Alunna

“It is not in my nature to take the backseat and watch life drift by. AWLI was a mind-transforming experience that validated who I am. I learned so much about Transformational leadership and the principles of feminist Leadership and advocacy and I have carried that knowledge with me every day.”

Ayikoru Patience Poni is a leading light in the political arena of Uganda.  She found her voice when she attended the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) by AMwA in 2021. For Patience, she thinks ‘it is imperative that leaders undergo mentorship to be honed into the best of themselves. Having kickstarted her leadership career right from Kindergarten to becoming the guild speaker at her university in Uganda, Patience’s leadership journey is on a commendable trajectory. With the tenacity to apply herself to knowledge and the art of feminist organizing, she enrolled for AWLI and was admitted. 

“AWLI enabled me to build capacity for growth and development in my leadership career. The experience was amazing.” – Patience.

With an interest in promoting gender-responsive governance, Patience is now using the effective advocacy skill learned from AWLI to disrupt the patriarchal political structure in Uganda.  “AWLI taught me how to identify problems in the current political and leadership structure in Africa with Uganda as context, how to design solutions that are gender-responsive with a feminist lens, and identify stakeholders that influence having gender-responsive governance positively or negatively.”

During her tenure as the university guild speaker, she realized that with the increase in sexual harassment at the institution, there was no policy on sexual harassment that protects and provides justice for those sexually harassed. Using the skills and knowledge from the AWLI, Patience drafted a sexual harassment policy for the university and advocated for the incorporation and implementation of the policy at the university. Also learning the art of collective work and movement building from AWLI, Patience knew her tenure will not allow her to monitor the implementation process, so she passed her knowledge forward to the next university guild speaker.

“I learned from the AWLI that even when you are unable to accomplish an agenda, you need to pass on the baton, ” Ayikoru says.

As a young woman challenging the political and leadership status quo, she credits her resilience in leadership to AWLI.

“I have become unstoppable with bigger dreams and goals that are very achievable and progressive.”

Right now Ayikoru is preparing to take the bar course at the Law Development Center of Makerere University before going on to pursue her dream of being a woman representative at the United Nations. 

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