The girl child in Uganda, like it is in many developing countries, is growing up in a world that is challenging than never before. The problems they are facing is insurmountable but that has not stopped Pimer Peace Monica, a student at Victoria University Kampala to dream big.
For Peace, a 24 year old student studying Procurement and Logistics management, every effort counts and through his Non Government Organization called Nile Girls Forum she has set out to sensitive and empower girls in West Nile, one of the most impoverished regions in the country.
In this interview Peace tells her story, which has so far seen her rub shoulders with some of the most influential women in Uganda and international dignitaries like the United States Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Ruth Malac and Stephanie Rivoal, the French Ambassador to Uganda.
Recently Peace and her Nile Girls Forum participated in the Women for Women Awards event hosted by the French Embassy.Please read her story as told by Peace herself in an email interview.
Please tell us about yourself – who are you?
My name is Pimer Peace Monica. I’m an Alur from Zombo district, Wes Nile sub –region in Northern Uganda. I am the Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of Nile Girls Forum and an Ambassador of CHEZA in Northern Uganda.
Tell our readers the story of Nile Girls Forum?
Nile Girls Forum is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that is fully registered with the National Bureau of NGOs in Uganda. My colleagues, Ms. Unyuda Mariah Elsie, Mr.Asiku Francis, Ms. Letaru Freeda and Ms. Kadimala Grace met two years ago through Facebook; we had never met in real life. Since we had a common goal of transforming our community in westnile, the five of us decided to meet and have the organization fully registered.
What inspired you to start the Forum?
My mother was one of the greatest inspiration because she believed so much in me and supported me through my education. This motivated me to aim higher and encourage my community to value education.
When I looked at the community, Zombo district where I come from, the girl child had very many challenges including high school dropout rates, teenage pregnancies, child marriage to mention but a few. I, therefore, took it upon myself to start an NGO that would transform and address everyday challenges of the girl child in entire West Nile sub- region.
What do you intend to achieve with the Forum?
We intend to have more girls acquiring formal education, equipping girls with hands on skills for example tailoring, creating more health awareness, sensitizing the community about child marriage.
What are your focal areas of focus as a person and NGO?
The areas of focus are girl child education, child marriage, teenage pregnancies, women health, gender based violence and youth empowerment.
How do you plan to manage time between reading books at Victoria University in Kampala and performing your role as a CEO of an ambitious NGOin West Nile?
I keep an updated schedule of my school work and office work. I set aside specific time throughout the week to focus on academics in order to balance the two. I do not procrastinate and prioritize my work, make time for myself and also get a good night’s sleep.
What change do you want to make in the world and how can we make this world a better place to live in?
I want to give the girls a voice but also teach them how to use it to make positive change in the world. We can make the world a better place by being our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9).
Which specific issue regarding women’s rights is most important to you?
Girl child education is most important to me because education addresses so many things. Girls have a great potential to change the world. “Educate a girl, empower a nation”.
“Girls are the future mothers of any society. Every girl that receives an education is likely to make education a priority for her children. It is a ripple effect of positive change in the community and country”. C.E.O Dubai Cares.
From your experience working with young girls, what are the challenges that need to be addressed by the community, government and CSOs like Nile Girls Forum?
In addition to girl child education, gender based violence, to mention but a few; there are other issues that need to be addressed for example, menstrual hygiene, fistula,cervical cancer, fibroids and breast cancer.
What tools are you using to address these disparities in West Nile?
The most important tool we use is seminars at schools and local communities. In light of seminars, we also use radio talk shows on local radio stations in West Nile for example Voice of Life radio station and Paidha FM to sensitize our people.
Women’s health is a global issue which hasn’t been sufficiently addressed, what health concerns in West Nile is haunting women in your area of operation?
Fistula, cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis are currently a threat to women’s health in West Nile.
Tell us about the state of child marriages and the impact it is having on the welfare of the communities?
According to the statistics of child marriage in Uganda, Northern Uganda has the highest prevalence rate of 59 % with West Nile sub-region at 50%. We should also keep in mind that child marriage cuts across for both girls and boys.
Child marriage affects all aspects of a child life and violates their rights, disrupts their education, exposes them to violence and abuse, exposes them to health risks and more often infants born to adolescent mothers have high risk of being born premature.
What are some of the achievements that you have been able to register as an organization run by young women and students?
We have been able to partner with a number of organizations such as CHEZA, Forum for Christian Empowerment, Keep Me In School, Arua Public Secondary School, Health Science Student Association Victoria University and Rotaract Club of Victoria University.
We have also been honored to have a number of outreaches in the community for example; Sanyu Babies Home in Kampala, Imvepi Refugee Settlement In Terego and keep Arua clean campaign in Arua town.
We were also honored to be part of the Women4Women awards that took place at the French Ambassador’s residence hosted by H.E the French ambassador to Uganda Stephanie Rivoal, an event that was organized by Ambassadors, heads of mission, directors and leaders.
We look forward to strengthening our partners with these organizations and more to come.
And what are the challenges you face running this organization?
As organization there are definitely a number of challenges we face ranging from insufficient facilitation for hard to reach areas, insufficient funds to support the girl child education and cultural norms whereby in some communities child marriage is legal.
How are men in the communities where you work responding to your activities – are they responding well or not?
There has been positive response from the men, especially the local community leaders; for example Mr. Marwothnga Ceasor, an LC1 official in Paidha has shown support towards Nile Girls Forum and is willing to work with us in order to successfully implement our program.
What is the role of youths towards the future development of the country like Uganda?
For Uganda to achieve sustainable development there must be a deliberate move that involves the youth at all levels and also acknowledges their ideas and potential.