New era: Women shine at the helm of  Uganda Law Society

Saturday September 19 2020
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ULS President Pheona Nabasa Wall and her vice Diana Angwech. COURTESY PHOTOS

By ESTHER OLUKA

Shane Gloria Musanase-Mugenga- Treasurer 

What inspired you to stand for this position? 
Life has taught me that positively impacting society takes more than a good education. It has been 13 years of learning, experiencing, serving and evolving. The road to the executives council was inspired by a near death experience that forced me to evaluate myself and ask why God had allowed me to live through the aforesaid ordeal. Life is now more meaningful as I listen more intently to the members and their concerns regarding our noble profession and its calling on our lives to be advocates for truth, equity and natural justice. Therefore, the desire to be part of the executive council was premised on the desire to cause a positive change. The office of the treasurer became my assignment of continuing the stewardship of the members’ welfare, as well as accounting for the deployment and management of resources provided to the society to carry out its mandate.

What duties will you execute as treasurer for the  society? 
Preparing and presenting budgets, as well as plans, ensuring accounts are prepared and maintained in a suitable format, ensuring periodic monitoring and reporting of the society’s financial statements, ensuring there are governance structures to oversee the financial affairs as well as overseeing effective financial planning and fundraising, among other responsibilities. 

How were the campaigns? 
The campaigns were interesting given that they were mostly done online. I enjoyed the online interviews and interactions with members who wanted to know our plans for the society. 
Speaking of which, having a dedicated committee was key to delivering successful results. My campaign team comprised mostly my husband, workmates, family and friends. 
My children were my first audience who listened and criticised my speeches and presentations before we circulated them to other platforms.


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Shane Gloria Musanase-Mugenga- Treasurer

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What will you personally gain from such a  position? A salary? 
There is no monetary value attached to this position.  Being part of council is purely service to my fellow members and stakeholders.

Who do you look up to for inspiration? 
My closest example and role model is my husband, who has selflessly given himself, time and resources to our family and community to create a better environment. 

What career advice do you have for other women? 
Desire to be part of a vision that is bigger than oneself, give your time and resources to develop ideas, support worthy causes that create a better environment or world where truth, equity and justice are at the very core of man’s existence. We must aspire to become and have the character of God in whose image and likeness we were created.

Give us a brief background of your family life and education. 
I am married to Daniel Mugenga and we have four children. I hold a Master of Laws in International Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.
In addition, I also have a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre, Kampala and a Bachelor of Laws from Makerere University, Kampala. Professionally, I am a partner at Apio, Byabazaire, Musanase and Co. Advocates, where I major in corporate law and corporate governance, energy and infrastructure, plus, family law. 


Pheona Nabasa Wall- President 

What inspired you to vie for this position? 
Having served as vice president (2018/19) and secretary (2016/17) for the society,  I understood the plight of lawyers more deeply.  I wanted to use my experience to represent and unite lawyers in Uganda. It’s only until we are united, organised and strategic about our role as lawyers in this country,  that we can achieve so much.

Why was it tough competing for this position as a woman?
During campaigns for my previous positions at ULS, the age factor was a big deal. They often said I was too young to run for the top position.  In this very race, people who preferred having someone who is more combative for the role as opposed to one who is calm. The experience has transformed me.  I was tried, tested to the core and came out it stronger. 

What are your plans for the society?
I would like to make the law society more creative in terms of how it addresses the rule of law. In addition, I plan on increasing its accountability to the people of Uganda, stakeholders and members. 

Are there specific plans you have for women?
I want to create equal opportunities for women by having more female lawyer committees in different regions. These will tackle the issue of sexual assault more, not only among lawyers, but also other women in different communities. I want to initiate programmes that will sensitise women about their rights. 

Who inspires you?
Anyone that does not look at challenges as obstacles but rather as, stepping stones and opportunities. Those who are willing to take a risk because of the cause they believe in, those who do not let the things about themselves that can’t be changed stand in the way of chasing their dreams. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Winnie Mandela are some of the women that inspire me. 

Who is Pheona Wall outside court? 
I am a married woman with three children. Currently, I am a senior legal manager at National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). 

What will you do to ensure Ugandans get access to timely justice?  
As a team, we want to address the issue of backlog by reviewing cases of prisoners whose remand periods have gone beyond their sentences. We intend to work with the Judiciary come up with a remedy. On matters of staffing of the Judiciary, we shall work with government and lobby for increased funding to ensure every court is performing at optimum capacity. We also plan to institute a judiciary score card, where we can give feedback to the Judiciary on how they are doing their work, which judges or magistrates are doing a credible job, who needs to improve, among other things. Once we give that feedback, I believe it will greatly impact the performance of the Judiciary. We are also planning spearhead Pro bono services to ensure Ugandans access  to legal services at no cost. 

What do you want to be remembered for after your reign?
I want all our stakeholders, development partners, donors, government, among other institutions to say we were available as a team when they needed us. I want to be remembered as a leader who prioritised the members’ needs and improved their welfare. 

How will you juggle roles at ULS, NWSC and family life?
I previously served in different positions at ULS while working at NWSC.  No doubt, this challenge will stretch my management capability and organisational skills. Thankfully,  I have strong support systems at my respective workplaces and home.  

What career advicedo you give to women?
If you are still young, be ambitious and embrace new opportunities. Stick to your values, mentors and your people. 
And to other women, do not leave a position without mentoring another person to take over. 


Diana Angwech, Vice president 

Was this the first time you stood for this particular position? 
Yes. My new role requires me to deputise the president, head the legal aid and Pro bono programme within the society. 

What inspired you to stand for this position…?
My passion for legal aid and desire to serve the society. Having worked in the legal aid space, I felt I would draw from my experience and make a contribution to the projects within the society. But also, I wanted to inspire others to serve.

Share with us your campaign experience for the position
Well, we were required to campaign specifically to our members. I personally made use of all advocate platforms and spent time meeting members. Campaigns took about six months from the date of nomination. It involved travelling, calling and making video clips, which all required money. And remember, this was done during lockdown where we were tested on many levels, including our mental capacity, ability to think fast, our character, our ability to stay  on course, our capacity to lead during hard times, our knowledge of the society and the role we were standing for, among other aspects.  


What kind of women inspire you? 
Women who break glass ceilings. Women who take a hit, pick themselves up, find strength to live again and show the world that they are made of more than their mistakes.

Who are your role models and why? 
I have been privileged to be mentored by so many people in various spheres; spiritual leaders, lawyers within the fraternity, judges and family. Each of them has provided guidance, redirected my steps, fought for me and given me something to look up to. The beauty about being mentored by people in various spheres is that it has given me an opportunity to become a wholesome woman. 

What’s your career advice to other women? 
Some of the things that will always be beneficial in your journey include mentors. These  bring out the best in us, building social capital as one of your greatest assets. Finally, you need to understand the times and seasons of your own journey so that you do not compete with someone who has a different race and time.

Who is Diana Angwech?
 I work with Shonubi Musoke & Co. Advocates. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Makerere University and a Diploma in Legal practice from the Law Development Centre. Aside from Uganda Law Society, I am a member of other professional bodies, including Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity and East African Law Society.


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Rita Namakiika Nangono, honorary Secretary


Rita Namakiika Nangono, honorary Secretary- 

What inspired you to stand for the position?
There are misconceptions sorrounding honorary secretary’s role in the law society or even in other corporate settings. For the second term, this position has gone unopposed at the ULS. It means this role is unattractive to our membership.  Possibly, the traditional perception that it is a clerical role, where the secretary is expected to take minutes. But I know for sure that governance is a fundamental enabler of trust in an organisation. At its heart is the promotion of transparency and accountability between all of society’s stakeholders. It is my desire as I serve, to showcase to our members that the position is ultimately a critical channel between the membership and the society.

What responsibilities come with your new position?
There is a clear framework in the Uganda Law Society executive council charter that sets out the roles and responsibilities of the honorary secretary, including governance, decision making and communication.
What are your plans specifically for Uganda Law Society as you embark on your new responsibilities? 
Enhancement of good corporate governance practices through transparency and accountability. I will ensure that the role of the secretary involves, in addition to a compliance role, the creation of appropriate cultures to enable the corporate governance structures, policies, and procedures for the effective running of the society. 

What will you gain as an individual from serving in the position? 
I am not aware of any monetary compensation but to me, it is not a big deal. The opportunity to serve the society is a big responsibility and I look forward to creating a difference in strengthening the society. 
   
What’s your career advice to other women? 
Settling for job security without job satisfaction is the ultimate career failure.  Craft a career that you are excited about.

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