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The Idea of Women in Power

The idea of women in power has long since been a cloud hanging over most people’s heads. It’s about time someone shed some light on it. From the Dahomey Amazons to Joan of Arc, there has been a lot of grey area concerning these female figures. Here is an insight into the thoughts of Annet Nanyonjo, Headteacher of Taibah International School, a woman in power herself.

You are currently the headteacher of Taibah International School and you have been for more than ten years. Normally, this is a man’s job so as a woman, how have you managed to do it and withstand the pressure all these years?

First and foremost, I am a mother and I have teenagers of my own so I have managed because I look at you children as if you are my own. As a person, I am driven by ethical values. I embrace responsibility. I try to work with honesty as much as possible. I do my best to respect everyone despite their religious affiliation, their political attachment and I like to believe that this has helped me work easily. Every day, I look at new challenges and I look forward to learning new things from the students. I don’t look at it as a burden; it is something I do with passion. So, I always tell people to relate with me, to avoid titles like Mrs, Madam but rather, call me teacher. I am teacher Annet, at home, at school; I am teacher Annet. That is why I have managed and that is why it is not wearing me down.

Are there times when you feel like it is too much and you want to stop?

Stopping is a big thing. Maybe I forgot where I derive my strength from. I don’t start a day without prayer. No matter how short it is. First, I thank God because I believe my being here is not that I am wise or that I wish it but rather, a divine calling. I remind God every day that He has sent me here for a purpose and I ask Him to give me wisdom to serve. When I tell you at assembly, that I speak to God, I am not joking. I look at God as a personal friend so that in whatever I do, good or bad, God is in my formula. Therefore, I have not had thoughts of giving up and no, I have not had very big challenges. Except, for this one time where we almost had a fire at the girls’ dorm but we were able to contain it. Children have not died in school and we have not had strikes from either teachers or students. I can’t say it has been a rough job. If I was asked for an alternative job, I would still choose to be the head teacher of Taibah International School. Another thing is that I have a very supportive team and very inspiring bosses. OSM (Oskar Ssemweya Musoke), as we call him in school, has been very instrumental in my career development, very encouraging and very supportive. The directors are also very good people to work with. Otherwise, it is a combination of things; good bosses, good employees, God and the students whom I look at as my own. When they make mistakes, I am tough and I am firm but when they do good, I appreciate and reward them, in whichever way I can.

As an educator, you have seen education evolve; from a time when education was the only way forward to success to the now, when street smarts and hustle are enough. For example; influencers, musicians, dancers. Do you think this change is a good thing or a bad thing?

I think education is a basic need, you cannot substitute it. I’ll give an example of musicians that are most prominent in Uganda. The ones that have gone to school are polished. People like Bobi Wine, Bebe Cool, Juliana Kanyomozi, Racheal Magoola, Dr Hilderman and Joanita Kawalya; all went to school and they have a certain class, a decency they learnt from school. It is good for one to do something they are passionate about and they need a firm foundation. To me, education is a firm foundation. I hate to hear someone say “I like this and education is useless”. Education moulds you, teaches you life skills, a sort of civilisation you get from formal education. So, I want people to have formal education and their passion.

Do you think woman empowerment is sidelining the boy child?

I have recently been talking about the male crisis. First, you should know where woman's emancipation and empowerment came from. Before this, the girl child was marginalised and treated as property and an incubator of sorts, to cook, clean, marry and make babies. But women can do a lot more and they have proved to society, that when given a platform, they can do everything. Unfortunately, men are deliberately taking the back seat and letting women take on the top positions. My conviction is that we need to have a gender balance; both boys and girls on the same level. Moreso, men should not expect anything on a silver platter, they have to work for it. So, if we do nothing about the boy child and men think they can fight to have control over women, then the time for them to fail is now. Economic empowerment bleeds all other forms of empowerment. Therefore, we must move forward together, it is after all the best course of action.

In the Bible, there is a scripture that says women should submit to their husbands and in society now, people tend to misinterpret this; the man should be dominant and the woman should be submissive. Do you think that men use this to put women down and limit them?

The concept of submission has been misunderstood just like woman empowerment. Naturally, women cannot be equal to men because we are created with our biological differences which sometimes influence the decisions we make. Women are naturally very emotional and men are very physical. So, submission does not mean marginalisation or surrender of rights. It rather means respecting your man as your husband. The same Bible tells men to love their wives. So, if your man loves you, he would do everything to protect you. A submissive wife would do the same. People need to understand the concept of submission better and men need to understand what loving your wife means. If everyone understands the core ethical values, then society will be more meaningful. To me, we don’t need much to have a normal society. The ethical core values of responsibility, integrity and honesty are enough to push us forward.

Are you content with what you have in life at the moment? Do you feel like there is more for you to do or do you feel what you have is enough for you?

I am a Christian and I am a Catholic. I believe God gives you what he thinks is enough for you. If there is anything more for me to do, it is charity. I want to reach out to as many people as possible. I don’t have much economic ambition really. One thing I have learnt is that we spend so much of our lives chasing wealth that when we are wealthy, we are too tired to actively enjoy it. The wealth we so much struggle to accumulate isn’t going to go with us to our graves anyway. I’d much rather spend my time injecting my money into something worthwhile, into someone who needs it more than I do. Hopefully before the end of this year, I may become a major donor at my Rotary Club. Simply because God has given me a little more money and I am more than happy to give it to charity.

Looking back on your life, is there anything that you feel most proud of?

I am most proud of the decision to be me, not a jaded likeable person that society accepts. Me, I am proud that I am just me. As a woman, that is the best thing I have done for myself and those around me. I couldn’t be any prouder of that. So, I would like to implore you, all of you, both girls and boys to be just who you are, who you want to be and not what the world expects you to be. Make yourself proud of ‘you’ as well.

Interview by; Kimberley Ogwal Yr.11 Martin Mugambwa Yr.11 Rania Janat Yr.10 Amani Obote Yr.10

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