March 09, 2017

"Where and who you are right now should never define what you can become"

Theirworld is marking International Women’s Day 2017 on March 8 by talking to inspiring women from across the globe. Read the full series here.

Barbara Birungi is the director of Hive Colab in Uganda. 

She is also the founder of Women In Technology Uganda, an organisation that seeks to train more women in the tech field through networking, training and mentoring. 

Barbara won the Anita Borg Change Agent award in 2014, an award that recognises outstanding international women who have created opportunities for girls and women in technology.

Who inspired you when you were younger? And who inspires you now?

Growing up I was inspired by my mother because she was hardworking and always found solutions to any challenges we faced. 

Today I am inspired by many women including Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Maya Angelou (her story gives me courage and inspires me - where or who you have been doesn’t have to define what you become), Margaret Kigozi, Winnie Byanyima (Oxfam International Executive Director) and Julia Ssebutinde. 

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#RewritingTheCode

Help to change the embedded values that stop girls from fulfilling their potential. Share a picture of yourself holding up a message and use the #RewritingTheCode hashtag.

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What challenges did you have to overcome to get where you are today? 

People not believing that a woman can run an organisation and have it succeed. Many look at any simple success by a woman like it's a wow moment, but if a man had done it there would be no wows coming his way. 

It's been a struggle to have people respect my achievements and not have them tied to a man. It's like constantly having to prove that I belong here.  

What’s the best advice someone has ever given you? And what advice do you have for young girls and women? 

Dream big enough that it scares you and then work on your starting point, then start. 

My advice to young girls is that where and who you are right now should never define what you can become. 

What has been your biggest achievement in life so far?

Establishing the first technology hub in Uganda and also setting up the first women-focused innovation and incubation space.  

What skills or attributes do you think women bring to the workplace?

Confidence and handwork and trusting in yourself enough to be able to deliver, sometimes even better than men. 

Women have the expertise and competence to take up available jobs in the ecosystem. In this job we are better than men, while in the rest we are just as good. 

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