A woman of valour

On Wednesday 31st August 2022, at the rank of Lieutenant General, Lt Gen Proscovia Nalweyiso had the honour of retiring as the highest female ranking officer in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF). At the ceremony graced by President Yoweri Museveni, she was among 48 military generals retired from the army.

While paying tribute to her at retirement, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda lauded Nalweyiso for her selfless service to her country.

“She started well and ended well. After decades of selfless service to the country and people of Uganda, Lt Gen Proscovia Nalweiso retired today as the highest-ranking female officer ever in the history of Uganda. #ThisCountryUganda congratulations!” he tweeted.

Born in a family of 20 children in 1954, Nalweyiso started to work as a school teacher and typist in her community, in Mpigi district. Stirred up by what in her opinion was a Uganda Peoples Congress rigged election in 1980, Nalweyiso joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) guerrillas in 1982 which marked the genesis of her military career in Uganda.

As the country marks the 42nd Tarehe sita celebrations, Nalweyiso is lauded for a key role played during the struggle and bush war of 1986. Once the female unit of the NRA was formed in 1983, she was appointed as its commandant. This unit played an active role in the NRA attack of the Mbarara Military barracks in 1985.

When the NRA finally came to power in 1986, Nalweyiso attained the rank of Captain and took over command of the women’s wing of the army, which consisted of about 800 members at the time. Over the years, she has risen through the ranks of Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Major General on to Lieutenant General which rank she held at her retirement.

In 2017, she hit another milestone as the first female Major-General in the UPDF. This record also applied to the whole of East Africa at the time.

Besides the military, her work profile includes being an aide and military advisor to the President.

In her words, Nalweyiso says “I can confidently say that whatever I fought for has been achieved and I am happy that women made a significant contribution to this achievement.”

Now a mother to four, she is currently serving as the special presidential advisor on defense and security.

Nalweyiso is one among many influential, senior ranking female officers in the UPDF to date. Other notable women in the army include Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso, Col Edith Nakalema, Brig Gen Agnes Musoke, Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo among others. They have all served in the army diligently and fervently in their respective capacities.


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