Agnes Nasirumbi – Aspiring Woman Member of Parliament for Persons with Disabilities

In this Alumna profile, we meet Ms. Agnes Nasirumbi, the Founder and Executive Director of the Nasirumbi Foundation and Aspirant for the Woman Member of Parliament for Persons with Disabilities seat. Agnes shares about her feminist leadership journey, how the AWLI enhanced her abilities and self-perception and how she has used this to grow and thrive as a leader.

        Tell us about yourself and what you do.

I am a Ugandan professional accountant who practiced for 16 years before founding the Nasirumbi Foundation, a non-profit organization seeking to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Uganda. I do this work through promoting initiatives that improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups through partnerships with Government, Civil Society, Business, Academia and development partners.

As I was disabled before one year of age, I faced many challenges growing up and while working as a person with a disability. This inspired me to start The Nasirumbi Foundation through which I hoped to contribute to building a better world for people with disabilities and to eventually join politics.

       What leadership position are you running for and what change would you like to effect?

I am vying for the post of National Woman Member of Parliament for Persons with Disabilities, a position for the nation-wide representation of women with disabilities. Women with Disabilities are a marginalized group whose voices need to be echoed through efficient and transparent representation.

Section 8 of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2006, states that the government will provide health services required by people with disabilities; including Sexual & Reproductive Health services for women with disabilities, as well as enforce the provision of relevant user-friendly hospital material for people with disabilities. In this position, I will see to it that this is enforced so that women with disabilities have access to convenient and affordable Sexual and Reproductive Health Services. I intend to push for the strengthening of health systems to support persons with disabilities with high quality health care services.

The challenges I have faced living with a disability inspired me to join politics so I want to prioritize women with disabilities so that they can enjoy their full human rights such as access to education, employment, family justice and convenience in access to public spaces, especially offices. The fight against Gender-Based Violence is also significant to our movement as feminists and it shall be key on my agenda. I also want to advocate for wealth creation programs and incentives to be accessed by all persons with disabilities.

           Why should the electorate trust you to lead them?

I have lived the realities of women living with a disability. This puts me in a good position to lead women with disabilities at a national level because I understand their challenges. I am honest and I have integrity, passion and commitment. I have a good attitude and I am a good communicator. 

What do you think are the most significant barriers to female leadership in Uganda? Have you experienced any of these challenges personally? If so, how did you overcome them?

Patriarchy is one of the most significant barriers to female leadership. The preference of men over women in all positions and levels of society and the belief that power indefinitely belongs to men rather than women is a big barrier to female leadership.

Disunity and opposition from groups or sects in politics that do not believe in and promote female leadership is another barrier. Women are completely blocked from accessing certain leadership positions. The male position holders tend to promote their colleagues to succeed them at the top decision-making levels when the time comes for them to retire.

I have personally experienced some of these challenges especially the preference of men over myself. However, I am persistent and I stand up for what I know is right regardless of the resistance I face. This has helped me overcome these obstacles.

Name someone who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?

The Speaker of the 10th parliament, Rt. Honorable Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga has had a tremendous impact on my leadership journey. The fact that she is able to mobilize and moderate the August house that is dominated by men, with utmost composure and assertiveness inspires me. I believe that if she can make it, then any other woman including myself can.

How did the African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI) influence your drive to run for elective office?

Through the modules covered in the African Women’s Leadership Institute I gained a lot of knowledge that has and will keep impacting my leadership journey. The Feminist Theory and Leadership modules gave me a deeper understanding of feminist principles and how to use them to analyze situations of oppression and all forms of discrimination. These principles are a clear guide that I am following in addressing and educating the women in my society. These principles will support my use of an intersectional approach while pursuing and promoting leadership that breaks the chords of patriarchy in society.

Even more, the self-development module taught me to lead more effectively by enhancing my wellbeing through personal care. This module taught me that I cannot give what I don’t have. It helped me rediscover myself, the potential and powers within me and realize that I can achieve my wildest dreams.