July 15, 2024

Gorretti Byomire

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By Simon Manda

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centre in Southern Africa (RLC-SA) has announced the appointment of Gorretti Byomire, a leading Disability and Gender Inclusion Activist, computer scientist, academic, consultant and researcher, to its Advisory Board.

Byomire currently serves as the Director of the Disability Resource & Learning Centre at Makerere University Business School and as the Chairperson of the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship Disability Inclusion Knowledge Network. She is also President of the Lions Club Kampala Nsambya Community.

In her new advisory role, Byomire will leverage her expertise to provide strategic counsel to the management and leadership of YALI RLC-SA. The centre runs transformative leadership training programs for youth across 14 countries in Southern Africa – Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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As an Advisory Board member, Byomire will offer insights and recommendations to continuously enhance the centre’s offerings and maximize its regional impact. She will focus on raising awareness of YALI RLC-SA, mobilizing stakeholder support, and bolstering advocacy and outreach efforts to ensure the program’s sustainability.

The recruitment process for the YALI RLC SA Regional Advisory Board was highly competitive, attracting over 230 applicants. As outlined in the role requirements, the selection committee sought to appoint qualified individuals demonstrating strengths in operational expertise, legal knowledge, human resource management, financial acumen, public relations, risk management and related domains,” a statement issued by the YALI Advisory Board Recruitment said.

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“Gorretti Byomire rose to the top as an exemplary candidate who will serve a 3-year term on the advisory board. With over 15 years of experience in education, training and professional development paired with pursuing a PhD in Philosophy, Ms. Byomire offers multifaceted skills that will further YALI RLC SA’s objectives. Her specialized understanding of disability inclusion and gender sensitivity aligns with YALI’s commitment to diversity. We warmly welcome Ms. Byomire and believe her wealth of experience will make valuable contributions to supporting YALI’s development,” the statement added.

Byomire has been actively engaged with YALI for several years. In 2021, she participated in the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship, the YALI program’s flagship leadership institute. She has since helped spearhead the Fellowship’s Disability Inclusion Knowledge Network, working tirelessly to increase the participation of young leaders with disabilities from across Africa.

“Since my Mandela Fellowship in 2021, I have volunteered extensively to support future Ugandan participants – spearheading alumni initiatives, STEM mentoring, application webinars and reviews. Through dedicating my time and talents, I have facilitated the access of 13 Ugandans to Mandela Washington and YALI leadership programs. I aim to uplift youth and give back to the Fellows community,” remarked Gorretti.

Byomire brings over 15 years of experience advancing disability rights and inclusive development in Africa. Among her many responsibilities, she is a member of the MUBS University Council, representing people with disabilities (PWDS). She is also a member of the MUBS Technical Advisory Disability Committee (TADC). In addition, she serves as the “focal person” for the Uganda National Council for Disability (UNCD).

Gorretti plays a pivotal role as a disability inclusion expert with Inclusive Development Partners and serves as a valuable member of the Disability-Inclusive Education Advisory Group, a member of the Commonwealth Disabled People’s Forum, a disability inclusion expert in the evaluation of the Sightsavers inclusive eye health program in Uganda and Malawi as well as being the CEO and founder of Byomire Inclusive Development Foundation (BIDF).

Gorretti is currently a PhD student at the University of South Africa. Her thesis is on Information needs and sources for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, and their information-seeking behaviour and communication during disasters and emergencies.

At YALI RLC-SA, Byomire will focus on cultivating high-impact strategic partnerships, pursuing innovative solutions, and fostering collaboration across sectors to empower young African changemakers. Her leadership and counsel will be indispensable as YALI continues to build a community of principled, results-driven young leaders equipped to drive progress in Africa.

In her advisory role, Byomire aims to ensure young people with disabilities have full access to YALI RLC-SA’s programs and platforms. She will help maximize the centre’s reach and impact by emphasising inclusion.

Commenting on how excluded youth with disabilities are in such international programs as YALI and the opportunities that exist for them to be part of such a program, Gorretti had this to say.

“Despite progress, youth with disabilities still face barriers to fully participating in society, including accessing education and leadership growth opportunities like YALI fellowships. From online applications lacking accessibility features to prohibitive technology costs, hurdles restrict inclusion at every step.

Even shortlisted candidates may require accommodations during interviews that organizations overlook – from interpreters for deaf persons to captioning.

As the newly appointed Advisory Board Member for YALI Regional Leadership Centre Southern Africa, I am passionate about championing diversity, believing inclusion enriches learning. I will advocate streamlining application processes, targeted outreach recruiting marginalized youth and program adaptations supporting accommodation needs. Assessing representation metrics and collaborating with disability partners can strengthen YALI RLC SA’s reach. Through celebrating diverse experiences, the program can create welcoming environments where all young African leaders thrive. I am committed to ensuring no youth is left out of this transformative opportunity due to identity, ability or circumstances.”

As YALI RLC-SA works to develop principled young leaders and connect them to opportunities, Byomire’s leadership and expertise will prove invaluable. She embodies YALI’s spirit of inclusive, ethical leadership and will be a tireless champion empowering young Africans with disabilities to advance the continent.

Overcoming a speech and language disability, I have emerged as a powerful advocate for disability rights in Uganda. The YALI Fellowships transformed my life, nurturing my personal growth and empowering me to harness my strengths. With newfound confidence and honed public speaking skills, I have championed increased educational and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

My efforts have yielded significant progress, including expanding affirmative action slots for disabled students at public universities, introducing a scholarship scheme for disabled students at Makerere University Business School, and securing employment for disabled individuals at MUBS. Additionally, I have successfully advocated for including persons with disabilities in various MTN Uganda initiatives.

My unwavering commitment to disability advocacy has earned me recognition as one of the Top 40 under 40 in Uganda, and my institution has been lauded as the most Disability Inclusive Educational institution in the country,” she capped.

 

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