This is what an unapologetic feminist looks like.
We’re extremely excited to introduce Mary Consolata Namagambe. She’s an unapologetic feminist, a vocal girls’ rights advocate, and law student. From a young age, Mary has been deeply involved in advocacy and social justice. She’s the founder of She for She, a company based in her home country of Uganda that aims to improve the lives of women and girls through education and grassroots campaigning.
Through She for She, Mary has seen firsthand the many challenges and injustices faced by women globally. And in particular, she’s observed the lack of adequate access to sanitary products available to women living in poverty-stricken communities and nations.
Elaborating on the issue, Mary notes:
“Many of them lack access to necessary items such as hygiene and menstrual products. Many women described how they had to choose between paying their child’s school fees or buying menstrual products. Schoolgirls describing the stigma around menstruation is distressing for girls who can’t afford sanitary products. Many use crude materials such as bark and sand instead of proper sanitary products and are suffering from health issues and social stigma as a result.”
Moved by these women’s’ personal experiences, Mary was pushed into action. She For She was born from her desire to create truly affordable reusable sanitary pads combined with health education and economic empowerment as a way to enable girls and young women to make informed decisions and measurably increase their productivity and health.
The company’s mission has proven to be an incredible success. Since She for She’s conception in 2017, they have so far provided: 800 pads to Gambian school girls, 600 pads to Kenyan schoolgirls, 1600 pads to Senegalese school girls and prisoners, and recently 800 pads to orphans in Uganda. And they have now expanded their business to Senegal and Guinea, teaching women how to sew reusable pads and in the process providing them with the tools and knowledge to start their own businesses.
Fuelled by her own experiences of racism and prejudice as an Afro-Dane living in Denmark, Mary is on a personal mission to change racial perceptions and norms in order to achieve greater racial equity within Danish culture. . And not one for just words, she created UVU – Foreigner Guides Foreigner. It was a project that provided voluntary guidance to immigrants, newcomers, and Danes from differing ethnic backgrounds. The program connected people with a variety of educational opportunities that led to higher education. The program ran entirely on a volunteer basis, manned by counsellors from diverse backgrounds, offering their advice and expertise to help others achieve their potential.
Her personal experience and professional achievements have made Mary a much listened to voice in Denmark when it comes to social issues. She has garnered local and national attention, having been featured in a variety of publications, including Politiken, OHCHR, and Berlingske, and has been invited to speak at TED Conferences, the United Nations, and the European Network Against Racism, to name but a few.
It’s safe to say that Mary is what modern-day leadership should look like. Her compassion and warmth are boundless and admirable. l. When Mary’s not going around fighting the good fight in the name of social justice and equality for others, she’s busy studying for her law degree in Denmark in her spare time.
Photographer: Fred Bugembe