Nansubuga is a medical student in her fourth year of study at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. She is however, not an ordinary student; she is a leader and a mover. She is currently the Secretary for Women Affairs at Uganda National Students Association under the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports. Irene was also re-elected as the Chairperson of the Uganda Young Women Leaders Network. Before she joined the Strengthening Young Women’s Civic Participation and Leadership Project, Irene thought leadership was not for her. Through the peer-to-peer mentorship and the #LetGirlsVote Club, she has gained the confidence and skills to become an exceptional leader she is today.
One of her biggest accomplishments so far is the menstrual hygiene awareness project that she is leading in the four districts of Karamoja region. Irene is advocating for locally made sanitary pads as a quick and viable response to the poor state of education among girls, which is currently depriving girls of four to five days a week of not going to school. According to her, many of them miss school or abandon it completely due to lack of sanitary pads.
“They cannot stand the humiliation from the opposite sex and the lack of support from community members.”
Out of Irene’s efforts, 200 girls are accessing locally made, recyclable sanitary pads as a pilot project, and to her excitement, all the beneficiaries are attending all lessons at school without any form of fear. She attributes the success of the campaign to the mentorship she had received while interacting with various mentors, which has ignited her innovation, and to see problems as stepping stones to designing great community solutions. One of the mentors and trainers whom she says equipped her with communication and public speaking skills is Ethan Mussolini who using experiential and practical methodology challenged the girls to pitch their ideas on camera and be critiqued by their peers. Irene has no doubt in her mind that it is such skills that have steered her leadership at the National Students Council in addition to easing her resource mobilisation drive. She is using the same skills to inspire people in her community on her way to being the change that she wants to see in Uganda.
“The longest journey starts with the first step, that’s why am taking my first step by helping the 200 girls in Karamoja. I am confident that my action will inspire others to support millions of girls out there who need help.”