International Women’s Day
Our International Women’s Day series highlights stories from Mastercard Foundation Scholars about how gender has shaped their leadership.
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Sharon Afri Prah: Breaking the Status Quo For Young Women
In a world of too many limitations as to what a male or female should do, it is seemingly impossible to undertake certain responsibilities or positions, especially in a male dominated environment. My leadership journey is no exception. However, the need and desire for change led to the alteration of the status quo.
Sharon Afri Prah studies English. She is a Scholar in the Program at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Natalie Lyrica Kagole: I Can and I Will
I left my home to present my stock
But little did I know that I would be asked to stop
“No, you can’t go through, you have the strategy and the tools but your design is just not full”
I ask how full do you want it so I can find my way through
He says, “It does not matter, your social status still won’t let you”
I plead out loud will all respect and poise
But still I find that he does not care for my cause
I scratch my brain to understand the construct he posed
I am learned and equipped so why not let me in
I can help, I can lead and his words and ideas, they sounded just like mine
He says, I am sorry, too late, your fingers are too soft
And to shape this world you need some muscle, maybe even a lot
All that I see that you’ve got is smiles and grace
And this works against the very purpose you crave
So, go home young lady because home is your place.
Natalie is a Scholar at Michigan State University. She is currently pursuing her studies in Psychology.
Ahmed Lugya: A Journey in Learning True Equality
In my freshman year of university, I wished to see girls and women live as the salt and the light in our campus. I wanted to see girls leading in classroom performance, taking up leadership positions and making a good impression on campus. However, I thought that I could only communicate my vision if I was in a position of leadership.
A Scholar in the Program at Makerere University, Ahmed Lugya studies science and computer science.
Yamikani Ng’ona: Because I Am the Woman
I once was asked which of the ever existing women I admire,
No name of a woman came in my thought
But a group of all the women who came out of their comfort zones
And realized they had more to give to the world than to be oppressed and undermined
Just because of their gender, that is, being a woman.
Yamikani Ng’ona is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at EARTH University. She is currently pursuing her studies in Agricultural Engineering.
Sandra Nabulega: Dispatches from the Frontlines of a Student Body Election
Running in my first election has shown me that women can lead in any sector, any field, and at any level. When we believe in ourselves, and in our fellow women, we are unstoppable.
That a woman should kneel for no man, and rather, stand on her own two feet.
Keep reading >
Sandra Nabulega studies Statistics. She is a Scholar in the Program at Makerere University.
Sherifa Iddrisu: Defining A Leadership Journey Through Hard Work
In this video, Sherifa revisits her time in high school and running for the post of prefect — an event which played a key role in defining her journey as a leader. Sherifa reflects on how one’s title should never be a limiting factor and even as an assistant prefect, she excelled in the ability to take the lead and continue improving her skills.
Watch the video >
Sherifa Iddrisu is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at University for Development Studies in Ghana.
Emily Otoo-Quayson: Once I Was a Baby Girl
Once I was a baby girl
Wrapped in pink sheets, in a pink cot with pink gifted bags.
Every dress had drawings of fairy-tale princesses in pink castles as well. My world was pink — I was to be pink: sweet, soft, lovable, considerate. Once I was a baby, yes, a baby girl.
Emily Otoo-Quayson is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Joel Ansah: Unlearning the ‘Tenets of Male Dominance’ to Recognizing Women’s Leadership
Growing up in a predominantly patriarchal community in the southern part of Ghana, the tenets of male dominance were ingrained in me throughout my childhood and teenage years.
Now, I am an ardent advocate for female involvement in students’ leadership affairs in my faculty as I helped female students ascend the Office of President in their departments. Currently working with a female president in my department, I feel most institutions and countries have lost countless opportunities to excel by sidelining the tenacity, foresight, and ingenuity of women in leadership.
Joel Ansah studies Sociology. He is a Scholar in the Program at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
Tanyaradzwa Chinyukwi: Scholar and Self-Declared ‘Societal Renegade’ Breaks New Ground for Zimbabwean Girls
Economically disadvantaged women dependent on agriculture walk for long distances to make their sales in highly competitive markets for very low prices. Results are never commensurate with efforts; and sex work and child labor end up as the only yielding alternatives. To solve this rising issue, my partners and I started ZAZI Growers’ Network — a social venture aimed at empowering vulnerable women to become competitive in the agricultural sector. Through mentorship programs, training and workshops, ZAZI Growers’ Network will empower women with technical agricultural skills to improve quality and use the network’s collective power to access new markets.
Tanyaradzwa Chinyukwi studies Agricultural Engineering and Natural Resource Management. She is a Scholar in the Program at EARTH University.
Jennifer Amuah: Scholar Defies Gender Stigma, Creates Change for African Girls
Imagine a country where institutional, advocated and well-developed women are made to rule the country. These women would rule and add up to the tender-heartedness of the nation. It goes like the adage: educate a man and you educate an individual, but engaging a woman means engaging the nation and generations unborn. I strongly believe it is the duty of every woman to set up and be a bringer of change and a forth bringer of generational thinkers.
I am a woman who is passionate about creating positive change and development.
Jennifer studies Economics and Geography. She is a Scholar in the Program at the University of Ghana.
Leah Nakaima: Building Uganda’s Culture of Reproductive and Sexual Health
In 2016, I started working on creating a new organization, “The Pennet Enterprises” in Jinja, Uganda. The organization supports 20 pregnancy-related high school dropout youths by employing them in a sewing company to enable them to pay their tuition, as well as reproductive health education. It also provides uniforms for two famous schools, supporting over 15 primary school girls with tuition using the profits.
Leah Nakaima studies Public Health and Public Policy. She is a Scholar in the Program at Arizona State University.
Eunice Adu: Fight Like a Girl: Scholar Leads Battle for African Girls
Gender taught me that I was being defined by my femininity, that I was weak and should never aspire to be a leader. Yet, gender showed me that it was a constraint that I should overcome. So, I overcame it — I understood it, I embraced it and I changed it. I am changing the lives of young girls who are restrained by gender. I became a leader, a role model to these girls and an inspiration to them. My fight is not over. I am fighting for a world where women are given equal opportunities to develop themselves and to become major influencers in society’s decision making.
Keep reading >
Eunice Adu studies Business Administration. She is a Scholar in the Program at Ashesi University.
Marie-Antoinette Addo: Breaking Glass Ceilings: Scholar Learns to Embrace Her Leadership Potential
Albeit challenging and frustrating, being a leader is equally rewarding and satisfying. I have learned, being a leader, that gender is always going to play a part in the positions for which I am offered or am nominated. My gender made me even more tenacious and determined to break through the glass ceiling that inhibits the progress of my leadership journey and to celebrate the struggles and successes female leaders before me endured.
Marie-Antoinette Addo is a Scholar at Arizona State University, where she studies Human Resource Management.