Re-imagined the face of Gender Equality in the Ugandan Context
In September 2012, Monica Nyiraguhabwa, a young Ugandan woman who grew up in the urban slums of Kampala, met Kimberly Wolf, a young American woman passionate about girls’ rights and leadership. While Monica struggled to achieve her education as a girl living in poverty, Kimberly was privileged to grow up with her needs met in the US. Despite their differences, they both related to the challenges that come with growing up as a girl in today’s world and the power of having someone believe in you.
Together, they dreamed up the idea of Girl Up Initiative Uganda after visiting Monica’s community together and identifying the need to advance educational and economic opportunities for young women and adolescent girls in these slum areas.
They came up with the name “Girl Up” on their taxi ride home after visiting Monica’s slum community that afternoon. They wanted the name of the organization to reflect their commitment to lifting girls out of a life of poverty and gender inequality. Just as boys are taught to “man up”, the two wanted girls to be taught to “girl up” and realize their power and strength as girls.
The two decided to combine their different skills to establish an organization in Monica’s community. Kim was leaving Uganda so she left Monica with $100 USD as an investment in their shared vision.
Monica and Kim stayed in touch almost daily and within weeks, Monica had already started offering business trainings and support to unemployed young mothers. And within a few months, she began mentorship and life skills training in our first school, St. James Bbiina Primary School (pictured above) for 50 girls.
From their humble beginnings, Girl Up Initiative Uganda is now a thriving, respected, and growing organization for adolescent girls. Most recently, the dynamic duo were invited to Oprah Winfrey’s home to discuss their shared passion for girls’ education. To learn more, check out this interview and listen to this podcast.