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LIST: Here are 10 influential Ugandan women who topped the year 2023

A Photo collage of Inebantu Jovia Mutesi, Nnaabagereka of buganda Sylvia Nagginda and new Monitor Publications Boss, Ms Susan Nsibirwa (Photo/DailyExpress)

The year 2023 witnessed Ugandan women rise to ranks in social, economic and political aspects of life, among whom was the Inebantu of Busoga, Jovia Mutesi. The Inebantu capped off the year when she got married to the King of Busoga Kingdom, Kyabazinga William Gabula Nadiope in a mega royal wedding amid controversy and legal battles.

From bagging awards and accolades to appointments in influential positions and innovations, below we profile a list of influential women who topped the year 2023 in Uganda.

1. Inhebantu Jovia Mutesi

Jovia Mutesi, now Inebantu of Busoga is undoubtedly the woman of the year. The Queen’s unveiling in September 2023, marked a historic moment in the kingdom. The announcement was a significant chapter in the rich cultural heritage of Busoga, as she became the Queen in the first Busoga royal wedding in more than 50 years.

The Inebantu’s sacred matrimony with the Kyabazinga unfolded in a grand ceremony at Christ’s Cathedral in Bugembe, Jinja City, on November 18. This extraordinary event served as the grand unveiling of the Inhebantu to the people of Busoga and a global audience.

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2. Miss Uganda Hannah Karema

On March 18, 2023, Hannah Karema Tumukunde, 20, was crowned Miss Uganda 2023. The glistening event at UMA Multipurpose Hall, Kampala, featured 20 finalists. In her victory speech, she urged fellow participants to embrace teamwork.

In celebration, a special homecoming event took place in her hometown of Kinoni, Nakaseke District. Excitement filled the air as people gathered to congratulate their new national representative. The occasion also served as an opportunity to promote education, with five acres of land donated for the construction of a secondary school.

To commemorate her win, a road in her hometown was named after her and unveiled during the homecoming ceremony. Looking ahead, Tumukunde is set to represent Uganda at the 71st Miss World Finale scheduled for March 2, 2024, at Yashobhoomi in New Delhi, India.

3. Dr Isabella Epiu – PhD in anesthesiology

Dr Isabella Epiu made history this year as one of the women awarded a PhD in anesthesiology, in East Africa. An anesthesiologist specialises in administering anaesthesia- a critical aspect of medical treatment that ensures patients do not experience pain during surgical procedures.

At 37, Epiu achieved her PhD in medicine, focusing on neuro-respiratory physiology and health economics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Her extensive expertise spans anesthesia, critical care medicine, emergency care medicine, intensive care and pain medicine. She has pioneered innovations in regional anesthesia techniques. Her groundbreaking work has contributed to making surgeries safer and more accessible, particularly in resource-limited settings.

4. Prof Susan Kiguli – Lifetime Achievement Award

In recognition of her remarkable contribution to literary field, the poet, writer and academic, Prof Susan Kiguli won a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the Civil Poetry Festival in Vercelli, Italy.
The professor in the Department of Literature at Makerere University is celebrated “as one of Africa’s most interesting young poets who write their poems in the oral story-telling tradition.”

Kiguli’s work has been published in national and international journals and her poetic prowess has earned her various fellowships across the globe.

She is one of the founders and former chairperson of Ugandan Female Writers’ Association, known as “Femrite,” which was established in response to the neglect of women’s voices in the local literary landscape.

5. Nnaabagereka Sylvia Nagginda – Autobiography Launch

On March 23, the queen of Buganda Kingdom, Sylvia Nagginda, launched her autobiography titled “The Nnaabagereka, Queen Sylvia Nagginda Luswata.” The book delved into the life, passion, and duty of the Nnabagereka and garnered widespread attention even before its release.

The book sparked discussions on social media and mainstream media, prompting a scramble for copies upon its release at Kampala Sheraton Hotel.

Among the revelations in Naginda’s book, were the existence of previously unknown twin children, to whom Nagginda dedicated the book, referring to them as her own. This revelation stirred debates, mixed feelings, and varied reactions within the kingdom’s loyalists.

The book also highlighted the Kabaka proposed to her via email, setting a distinct and modern tone to the manner of royal proposals in contemporary times.

6. Cindy – Sheebah Music Battle

Songstresses Cinderella Sanyu Okuyo and Sheebah Karungi both had a successful year 2023, capped off with a musical battle organized by Victoria University. The battle undoubtedly became one of the most talked-about concerts of the year.

Cindy, on her part, edged out Sheebah in the year after successfully participating in one of the most anticipated events in Uganda’s music industry – a reunion of the Blue 3 singing trio, who came together for a mini-concert this year. All these factors propelled her to dominate media spaces, winning her more fans. Remarkably, she achieved all of this without releasing a hit song on the market this year, a rare occurrence in the music

7. Fauzia Najjemba

Uganda National Senior Women’s Football team (Crested Cranes) star Fauzia Najjemba received a distinguished nomination in the 2023 CAF Awards for the Young Player of the Year award. This was her second consecutive nomination, following her first in 2022.

Najjemba proved to be a stalwart for the Crested Cranes, contributing significantly to their journey to the second round of the Olympic qualifiers. Unfortunately, they faced a 3-2 aggregate defeat against Cameroon.

In the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, she scored once and provided an assist as Uganda fell to Algeria by a 3-2 aggregate. Notably, she played a pivotal role in Uganda’s 3-1 victory against Tanzania in a July international friendly at the MTN Omondi Stadium, Lugogo, scoring one goal and assisting another.

Representing Dynamo Moscow, Najjemba displayed her prowess by scoring multiple goals and assisting in four additional goals across eight Russian Supreme Division games. These contributions positioned the team at fifth place in the Championship group.


8. Anne Jjuuko

Stanbic Bank’s chief executive officer, Anne Jjuuko, stood out as the sole Ugandan who featured on the Africa.com 2023 Definitive List of Women CEOs earlier this year. This data-driven list acknowledges women at the helm of large businesses, listed on one of Africa’s stock exchanges, with revenue exceeding Shs375b or $100 million.

Jjuuko earned praise from Standard Bank Group’s regional chief executive for East Africa, Patrick Mweheire. He lauded her stellar performance as the first female chief executive of Stanbic Bank, asserting that she deserves more significant responsibilities within the group.

Mweheire expressed his belief that the next logical step for Jjuuko, whose tenure ends in March 2024 would be a regional management role.

9. Vinka – Bailando hit

Signed under Swangz Avenue music label, Vinka – real name Veronica Luggya, emerged as a standout artist of 2023. Her track Bailando emerged as the most-played song on airwaves in 2023.

This song earned Vinka consideration for the Grammy Awards in categories such as Best Global Music Performance and Best African Music Performance. Vinka’s vocal prowess was also showcased in Believe one of the most prominent music collaborations of the year.

10. Suzan Nsibirwa

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At the close of this year, Suzan Nsibirwa was appointed managing director of Nation Media Group- Uganda. With more than 25 years of experience in marketing and communications, Nsibirwa made history as the first woman managing director of the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa.

Her tenure commences on January 2, 2024, replacing Tony Glencross, who concluded his nine-year stint with the entity in December.

Nsibirwa transitioned from her previous role as the managing director at Ayiva Consulting Solutions. Her extensive professional background includes positions at URGE – Uganda, Vision Group, MTN Uganda, and DFCU Bank, among others.

Did we leave out anyone, let us in the comment box on our socials!



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