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PROFILE: Cecilia Ogwal; Uganda’s first ever beauty queen who turned ‘Iron Lady’ in politics

Former MP Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, commonly known as Cecilia Ogwal (Photo/File)

Kampala, (UG): Ugandans on Thursday woke up to grieving news following the demise of Hon Cecilia Atim Ogwal, the Woman MP representing Dokolo District in the eleventh parliament.

Ogwal, 77, succumbed to cancer at a hospital in India where she had been rushed for treatment early this year.

The Speaker of Parliament and Bukedea District Woman MP, Rt Hon Anita Among confirmed the untimely demise of Ogwal in a post via X on Thursday morning saying; “It is with a heavy heart and pain that I announce the passing of our Mother, Mentor and role model Imat Cecilia Atim Ogwal, the Honourable Member representing the Women of Dokolo District.”

“I send my sincere sympathies to her dear husband and the family, friends, the people of Lango and colleagues! May her soul find eternal rest,” she added.

Who was Cecilia Ogwal?

Cecilia Barbara Atim Ogwal, commonly known as Cecilia Ogwal was born in Dokolo District, Northern Uganda, on June 12, 1946.

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In her early years of education, she attended local schools in Uganda until 1967, when she was admitted to the University of East Africa in Nairobi, (present-day University of Nairobi), to study Bachelor of Commerce at the age of 21.

At 23, Cecilia Ogwal won the first “Miss Uganda” contest at the Apollo Milton Hotel (current Sheraton Kampala), adding a touch of glamour to her multifaceted life.

A year later (1970), she graduated from Nairobi and went on to pursue a Certificate in Human Resources Management from the Institute of Public Administration present-day Uganda Management Institute (UMI).

She also held two other certificates; one in Christian-Based Values from the Haggai Institute, Singapore, and the other in Public Private Partnership from Australia.

Professional Career

From 1979 until 1980, Ogwal worked at the Uganda Embassy in Kenya, as the Liaison Officer for Returning Ugandan Refugees.

From 1980 until 1981, she worked as the Operations Manager at the Uganda Advisory Board of Trade.

In 1982, she was one of the founders of Housing Finance Bank, working there until 1984. She also served as the Chairperson of Uganda Development Bank, from 1981 until 1986.

Ogwal joins politics

Cecilia Ogwal became involved in active Ugandan politics when she was appointed the Acting Secretary General of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) from 1985 to 1992.

In 1994, she was part of the Constituent Assembly which drafted and promulgated the 1995 Ugandan Constitution.

From 1996, Ogwal represented the people of Lira Municipality until 2005 when she lost the UPC party ticket to Jimmy Akena, the son of Milton Obote.

Later that year (2006), Ogwal announced she had joined the Forum for Democratic Change after she fell out with UPC.

In 2011, Ogwal contested and won the Women’s Representative seat for the newly created Dokolo District, a position she held until her death.

This means she served two parliamentary terms on a direct constituency election (Lira Municipality) and Dokolo Woman MP as a district woman representative.

Ogwal’s parliamentary contributions were substantial, evident through her role in the Committee of Physical Infrastructure, where she oversaw policy matters related to Lands, Housing, Urban Development, Works and Transport, and Physical Planning.

She was also a member of the Parliamentary Budget Committee where she left an imprint in shaping Uganda’s developmental trajectory.

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Personal life

Cecilia Ogwal was a loving wife to Lameck Ogwal and a mother of seven natural children alongside numerous adopted ones.

The former beauty queen turned “The Iron Lady” will be remembered as a dedicated politician, businesswoman and champion for women’s rights.

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