Do Ugandans need to hear from the women defying the odds in corporate Uganda? That was the question posed to me by a friend who lives in Munyonyo, few days ago.My reply was a resounding yes. Across Uganda, women are climbing the political and business ranks, whether it be through appointments or promotion. Uganda’s high-powered business women have been on your blogger’s radar.From Kampala to Mbarara, women’s power in Uganda and beyond are impossible to ignore. Across the board, Uganda women are more influential than ever and have in my opinion selected the most powerful women in Uganda based on popularity,online mentioned and mainstream media coverage.The list includes women from a wide range of sectors and seeks to draw attention to senior women who are at, or approaching, C-suite level. It includes women in chief executive roles but also includes women in the leadership pipeline poised to take over these roles in future.Contador Harrison’s decision to compile the list is based on what these women have achieved.There is a debate constantly going on in Uganda about whether there are more women moving up the ranks in our corporate world. We have individuals like Jennifer Musisi who get a lot of public attention, but I want people to see that there are actually a huge number of women from all different sectors moving up through the leadership ranks and ready to take over.I needed the list to be substantial enough to show just how many Ugandan women there are in senior ranks across all industries.“Someone in Kampala recently said to me, ‘why don’t you just do a list of ten?’ but ten is not enough Harrison. By doing 100, you could show that there are women coming up in a broad range of areas, but sadly I don’t have enough time to source facts about 100.The business in Uganda is very focused on getting women on boards, which is important, but it allows people to avoid addressing the deeper structural problems.Women on boards can be used as a quick fix.
An organization can point to two or two women on its board as evidence that it is making progress, but it doesn’t actually face the very difficult challenge of figuring out how to encourage women to stay in the workforce and how to encourage them to aspire to be the next Allen Kagina, the immediate CEO of Uganda Revenue Authority. Ugandan Women need a way to move upwards from boards.I believe encouraging Ugandan women to progress involves addressing issues like affordable childcare, paid parental leave and unconscious bias.There is no silver bullet and it is made harder by the fact that Uganda is a developing country where just like other parts of the world there’s high levels of poverty, low growth environment and everybody is trying to do more with less, but despite that companies operating in Uganda need to understand the importance of paid parental leave and childcare.I know of a lady who lost her job in Entebbe because her employer couldn’t do without her during maternity leave and they ended up hiring a replacement.There are so many complex issues holding women back in Uganda and the country need to look at all of them closely, and properly unpack them, in order to sustain progress that has been made over the last two decades since Dr Specioza Kazibwe was appointed the first female Vice President in Africa and more recently when Uganda became the first African country to have a female national assembly speaker, the evergreen Rebecca Kadaga. Your blogger hopes that by demonstrating how many women are succeeding across all industries, lists like Uganda’s 10 Most Powerful Women will help to encourage women to aspire to senior leadership roles themselves. The more Ugandans identify and point to the people doing well, the more women are encouraged to aspire to those positions and the more society can see just how many talented and deserving women it has. Below are the top 10 women on my list.
1. Rebecca Kadaga – Uganda National Assembly Speaker
2. Janet Kataaha Museveni – First Lady, Member of Parliament and Minister
3. Jennifer Musisi – Executive Director Kampala City Council Authority(KCCA)
4. Allen Kagina – Executive Director Uganda National Roads Authority.
5. Doris Akol – Commissioner General Uganda Revenue Authority
6. Maria Kiwanuka – Businesswoman and immediate former Finance Minister
7. Amelia Kyambadde – Trade and Industry Minister
8. Dr Maggie Kigozi – Entrepreneur and medical doctor
9. Aggie Konde – Managing Director NTV Uganda
10. Peace Proscovia – Captain Uganda national netball team