Advance Women's Leadership

Empowering Women, Strengthening Families: GPWLA’s Naswirah’s Journey of Growth and Transformation - Uganda

Wairimu Mwangi
April 17, 2024

Volunteering is an important part of community building, which not only unites people who are committed to achieving a shared vision but also helps the volunteer to learn new skills, network and help others who are in need. Naswirah Nalukwago's journey towards becoming a leader and advocate for change in her community in Mbarara City, Southern Uganda began with a single step – her decision to volunteer for a Global PeaceWomen (GPW) program in March 2020. Little did she know that this initial step would transform her life and the lives of many others around her. Under the mentorship of Jalia Muntu, another GPW Project Leader from Uganda, Naswirah was introduced to the vision, mission, and objectives of GPW, igniting within her a passion for humanitarian work and service beyond self. Inspired by the impactful work of her mentor, Naswirah decided to deepen her involvement by enrolling in the GPW Leadership Academy (GPWLA) to hone her leadership skills and become an ambassador for change in her community.

Naswirah underwent rigorous training sessions under the guidance of Dr. Soonok Kang, where she learned essential skills such as project development, budgeting, and the importance of project ownership. Armed with newfound knowledge and a sense of purpose, she embarked on a series of projects aimed at empowering vulnerable women and girls in her community.

Her first project, which focused on empowering women through income-generating activities, left a lasting impact on her community, with 20 direct beneficiaries and 58 indirect beneficiaries benefiting from the initiative. The project not only provided economic empowerment opportunities but also fostered the formation of a savings group, ensuring sustainability beyond its duration. Building on the success of her first project, Naswirah launched subsequent initiatives aimed at coaching and mentoring women in startup businesses and championing women's inclusivity in combating climate change. Through these endeavors, she not only empowered women economically but also equipped them with the skills and knowledge to address pressing environmental challenges.

Naswirah's dedication and leadership didn't go unnoticed. Her efforts have led to tangible outcomes, including the establishment of her community-based organization, Way to Success, and meaningful partnerships with organizations such as the Uganda Red Cross Society. These collaborations have expanded her advocacy for women's empowerment and opened doors to new opportunities, including a leadership role within the Red Cross Society and participation in international events such as a leadership training in Denmark.

The impact of Naswirah's work has extended beyond her community, reaching as far as Nakivale Refugee Settlement, where her exemplary performance caught the attention of her superiors and led to employment opportunities. Her skills in project management, budget handling, and proposal writing, honed through her experiences with GPW, proved invaluable in her professional endeavors, culminating in her current position as a Programs Associate on a USAID project called Uthabiti.

Reflecting on her journey, Naswirah acknowledges the transformative role GPW played in her life. From providing a supportive community during times of personal struggle to equipping her with essential skills for professional success, GPW has been instrumental in shaping her into the leader she is today. Her story serves as a testament to the power of leadership, resilience, and service beyond self. Through her tireless efforts, she continues to inspire and empower others, leaving a lasting legacy of positive change in her community. As she continues her journey, Naswirah remains committed to the vision of "One Family under God," spreading love, harmony, and empowerment wherever she goes.