Meet the CEO-Penelope Sanyu

 “I absolutely looovvvvveeee to teach. I am at my best when I am passing on knowledge, I am always amazed and deeply honoured that God constantly opens doors for me to share, to teach, to learn to grow. In learning I teach, and in teaching I learn. What a gift!” her social media post reads.

Penelope Sanyu, the Chief Executive Officer at Femme Forte Uganda wears several hats. She is a lawyer, policy analyst, author, and change agent. She has dedicated her life to building the capacity of young people to innovatively engage with and influence public policy in various spaces. Sanyu uses social arts as a tool for transformation and has organised several social arts platforms at national level.

One of such is Qweshunga (play), an idea borne in 2020, with the mind-set of starting to have conversations about play as a tool for healing communities. This YouTube channel –Qweshunga is an essential part of learning, healing and living. Sanyu believes that play is the lifeblood of curiosity, creativity and developing social, emotional and physical skills as well as fostering disciplines to succeed in life.

“He/she who controls or influences your play-ability controls you and your body. To whom have you handed your power over the years, the power to control how, when, why, with whom, where you play? When was the last time you played? What has shaped your opinion of play? How do you play? How do you talk about play? What is the future of play?” That is the mind-set she desires us to adopt.

Sanyu has also worked extensively with civil society organisations, women’s movement, and feminist organisations in Uganda. She mentors and coaches young people on transformative leadership and is a certified financial growth coach. Her team at Femme Forte Uganda is focused on empowering young women.

Passionate about advocating for equality, Sanyu identifies with American poet, activist, and author Andre Laude who said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Her desire is to go beyond simply advocating to stopping, listening and caring. That is because she believes that as the civic space is increasingly shutting down, women must be heard more so when decisions that affect their lives are being made.

Sanyu believes that her small advocacy efforts are part of the bigger effort to liberate women and make them equal in every sphere.

Her work is driven by the fact that she grew up in a slum, characterised by severe poverty and violence. Watching women and children in the neighbourhood endure daily abuse planted a need to do something. She vowed not to allow their pain go to waste because it was not right to see a loved one silenced by fear of the consequences of speaking out. When people ditched their dreams because abuse mutated them, Sanyu was frustrated. The frustrations bore an insatiable need to, in whichever magnitude, dig these women’s voices out of the dunghill and amplify them. With her efforts, women now have a space to speak about their pains without fear of judgement.