Annika Allman

Annika Allman (Vital Voices Uganda): A Jamaican-Canadian, Annika earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Development Studies from the University of Waterloo. As an undergraduate student, she acted as Administrator for the Guyana Red Cross Society's Children's Convalescent Home. She has also worked as a policy analyst for the Canadian International Development Agency. At the time of her fellowship, Annika was pursuing a Master of International Affairs in economic and political development, and interning at the Women's Refugee Commission. After her fellowship, Annika wrote: "I will be more sensitive about the way I think and speak about Africa and Africans. Second, I will be more connected to the world. This has boosted my confidence tremendously. The openness and appreciation (of my hosts) helped me change the way I see myself, my value and my capabilities."

Tunaalabagana (See you later), Kampala

06 Sep

This is my last blog entry. Since I left Kampala one week ago, I’ve had time to reflect on my 11 weeks at UWEAL. I have now seen in stark reality how difficult life can be for the average (not to mention the poorest) Ugandan. Babies that would be kept alive for months in a US hospital die shortly after delivery in Ugandan hospitals. Paying for a child’s education from the primary level onward — by far the number one motivation for the female entrepreneurs to whom I spoke — is not easy. The practice of human sacrifice has somehow (re)emerged, and terrorism is a real threat.

Listing these challenges has become so cliche that you might have skimmed or even skipped the last paragraph. That’s alright; it’s difficult to grasp and easy to forget that life is so different only half a planet away. I’ve tried to share stories here that make the experiences of Ugandan women seem somewhat less distant. These women, some of whom I profiled here, are from slums or suburbs, are PhDs and primary drop-outs, are cleaners and lawyers and everything in between. They have only one thing in common: they are entrepreneurs who believe that women deserve success and independence. As I sit in comfortable classrooms and boardrooms debating the best path for (other) women’s empowerment, they sit in the market, on the farm, at trade fairs, in parliament, and in other venues that allow them to lead the way for women in business. In my three months at UWEAL, seeing these women has encouraged me to do more than I thought I could  (but not as much as I should). I hope in some small way I have shed light on their challenges and successes.

I extend the warmest of thanks to my hosts, my colleagues and their families for welcoming me and telling me their stories freely and frankly.

Posted By Annika Allman

Posted Sep 6th, 2010


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