During their teenage years, a number of girls are still figuring out what to do with their lives. But Anitah Prossy Namuwoya is already following her passion of fighting for children and girls’ rights.
“I enjoy speaking on matters that concern vulnerable people in society, especially children and girls. I dislike people who abuse the rights of others,” she says.
Her advocacy is done in different ways. For instance, Namuwoya says, there have been cases where she has seen men harassing girls on the streets and she has been bold enough to tell them to stop.
“Just the other day, I saw a man touching a young girl’s buttocks on the street. I walked up to him and told him to stop. He hauled all kinds of insults at me and told me to mind my own business. But I stood my ground,” she says, adding that eventually, the man walked away in shame.
Namuwoya says: “Sometimes, I get insulted for standing up for myself. For example, there are men I have told off when they touch me inappropriately. In this case, it does not bother me if I am abused as long as I have made my point,” she says.
The teenager recalls a time she had to punch a man who insisted on making passes at her. “Nowadays whenever he sees me, he keeps his distance,” she says while laughing. “He is scared of me.”
From time to time, Namuwoya, who stays in Nsambya, a Kampala suburb, with her father and siblings, is fond of going around her neighbourhood to sensitise young girls on their rights but also on sexual reproductive health. She encourages them to abstain from sex and avoid early marriages. One wonders though, how she gets knowledge on sexual and reproductive health?
“I learn these from school where there are lessons and programmes tailored to teach students different things including such important aspects of life,” she says.
Namuwoya is a student at Uganda Youth Development Link, a non-governmental organisation that enhances social economic transformation of young people through skills development and self-reliance. Namuwoya is currently undertaking a course in catering.
In 2015, when Namuwoya was home alone watching television, a man, who was drunk at the time, entered their home and attempted to rape her.
“He came out of nowhere and grabbed me. He held a hand over my mouth and tried so hard to remove my clothes. Thankfully, some friends who had decided to come for a visit found him and started beating him while others ran out to call for help,” she says.
“God was watching over me that day. I was not raped. But just imagine what would have happened if my friends had not come at that time,” she adds.
The man was arrested by police, tried before the courts of law and eventually sent to jail. It is this experience, Namuwoya says, that inspired her to stand up for other girls’ rights.
Namuwoya’s passion also extends to defending and promoting children rights. On why she is passionate about being a voice for children, Namuwoya says it is because of the many challenges children face in society today.
“Some children are continuously subjected to physical, emotional, sexual and psychological abuse,” she says, adding, “I am comfortable standing up and telling concerned people to stop inflicting pain on children because they are innocent. I believe they need bold people like me to help them voice their concerns.”
It is no wonder that this same passion and zeal saw Namuwoya selected to participate as one of the panelists at last year’s media round table discussion organised by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the rights of children.
“It was such a huge platform for me. I got the opportunity to debate the challenges children and girls face in the country today,” she says.
And it was at this same event that Namuwoya requested more individuals and organisations to come out and continuously address the needs of children, especially the girl-child.
Education and family background
• Namuwoya completed primary seven in 2013 at Railway Children Primary School, Nsambya, Kampala.
• She sat her Senior Four examinations in 2017 at Hope and Faith Secondary School in Bombo, Luweero District. However, after failing to perform well, Justine Bakulimya, her mother, took her to Savannah Highland College in Iganga district to repeat Senior Four in 2018. Unfortunately, there was no improvement in her performance due to a number of challenges including financial constraints.
• In 2019, she enrolled at Uganda Youth Development Link where she is currently undertaking a catering course.
• Namuwoya is a daughter to Micheal Bukoli, a retired engineer and Justine Bakulimya, a house wife. She is the second last born of six children. While her father is based in Kampala, her mother lives in Budaka District.