Mary helda Akongo

Country representing

Uganda

Education

  • Makerere University
  • Bachelor of Information Technology

Current organisation

Zimba Women

Current role

Operations and programs manager

Skills and Expertise

Activism
Community management
Information technology
Social entrepreneurship
Women’s rights

Areas of interest

Business
Human Rights
Leadership
Sustainable Development
Youth Unemployment

Website & Social Links

I am passionate about

Gender inequality: I am very passionate about the political, social and gender empowerment of women. Coming from a patriarchal society, I have experienced the discriminations against women by a society where a woman’s place is considered to be in the kitchen, and they don’t really understand why a girl should be educated. I was raised by a single mother who taught me the essence of equality, inclusion, and diversity. She encouraged me to find my voice and took me to private schools despite the hard financial situation that we were in. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology (which is a primarily male-dominated field), I saw an opportunity to work as a volunteer for Zimba Women, and I seized it since Zimba Women gave me the opportunity to work with women and fight to achieve gender equality. I believe that a full and robust economy depends on the equal participation of women in the economy. Gender-based violence: A week after I had started volunteering with Zimba Women, I fell a victim of domestic violence from my then partner. I was beaten up by him. The shame, insecurity, and post-traumatic stress disorder negatively affected my professional and personal life. Going through this traumatic experience made me decide to stand up and speak up not just for myself but for also those women who can’t do so for themselves. I don’t want any woman to have to go through the same experience that I went through. Therefore I am choosing to roar so that a thousand years from now, another woman will not have to wipe their tears wondering where in history she lost her voice. I am also dedicated to creating a safe space for victims and survivors of gender-based violence to support each other, creating awareness and fighting against gender-based violence

Actions

I am currently the operations and program manager of Zimba Women and in charge of day to day running of the organization and vigorous programmatic excellence. Zimba Women is a social enterprise that provides tools and technology platforms, business training, mentorship, and networks to improve the livelihoods of women and girls in under-served communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Our key project activities involve providing capacity building through entrepreneurship training to offer skills for women and girls, business coaching, mentorship for women in business and women in STEM, knowledge transfer, access to resources and networks, digital literacy training, digital marketing services. I am currently in charge of various programs for example the mentorship program which has 85 mentors and mentees that have been matched for a period of one year, the Funzi training program which is a 6 weeks training program for women in technology and women in entrepreneurship to gain skills for both personal and professional development and other programs. In December 2017, I decided to speak out about my experience as a survivor of domestic violence. I wrote an article on my blog. Surprisingly, an editor at the Daily Monitor (Uganda’s National Newspaper) reached out to me and requested to share my article on the newspaper which I agreed to although my fear urged me to say no. It was yet another shocking surprise when NTV Uganda, asked me to share my story on National TV, which I also agreed to. I was so shocked when women started reaching out to me on my social media platforms to commend me on my bravery and to say that they were inspired by my story and as a result, they were going to share theirs and also seek out help. As a result, I have founded Roaring Doves, a community-based organization that encourages women who are victims of both online/internet and offline violence to speak out and support each other.