A Journey in Learning True Equality

International Women's Day 2018

International Women’s Day 2018

In celebration of International Women’s Day and the African Women’s Leadership Conference at Wellesley College, Scholars explain how gender has shaped their leadership journeys. A Scholar in the Program at Makerere University, Ahmed Lugya studies science and computer science.

As Sheryl Sandberg says in her TEDx Talk, “a truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.”

But in my community, men run countries and women run the homes. Girls are taught to play with dolls while boys are taught to be wrestlers. Girls are taught that in a dress, you are a princess and no one could change that. Boys, on the other hand, are taught that the more muscles you have, the more people will like you.

Throughout my childhood, this problem frustrated me—the problem of male bias that seemed so prominent in the world and especially in my community. Ever since I was younger, my father always wanted his sons to be the tough ones, while the girls were meant to be the sensitive ones, the ones who cry when they fall. And my mother always taught her daughters to clean and cook at an early age.

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. I ended up working towards an executive position in the guild council. However, since I was a freshman, I was unable to join.

At the start of my second year, I was inspired by a friend who was passionate about women’s inclusion. They inspired me to action and to form a club called The Makerere Girl Child Empowerment Club. We aimed to meet each week and we tried to find others who were passionate about the same topics and would listen to us. We started sharing our experiences with our friends, which ignited their desire to join the club and by the end of the semester, we had over 80 members.

Our efforts led to an increase in young women’s participation in activities on campus. This growth helped me realize that I limited myself by confining my leadership to a formal position, instead of acting on my vision. Instead of being elected myself, I could play a role in encouraging more participation by my female peers on campus.

As a leader in my community, I envision a world that honors both our commonalities and our differences, a world that must not only actively recruit women and girls to schools, but which also addresses any barriers to their meaningful participation in society. I envision a world where young men can unlearn the roles that are handed to us as children, and where education has a ripple effect that creates a fairer world for women.

More importantly, I envision a world where every single African young woman has a community around her who recognizes her potential.

Meet Ahmed Lugya

Ahmed Lugya

Ahmed’s story is part of a series for International Women’s Day that is highlighting stories from Mastercard Foundation Scholars about how gender has shaped their leadership journeys. Continue reading more posts in the series here.?