Marjorie Atuhurra is on a mission to empower marginalized women in Uganda
Marjorie Atuhurra, founder of Gejja Women Foundation is working tirelessly to ensure that other women and young girls are given the opportunity to fully participate, be independent and become contributing members of society in Uganda.
According to Marjorie Atuhurra, Gejja Women Foundation empowers marginalized women, widows and teenagers. They provide educational support to school dropouts in rural areas of Uganda and conduct personal hygiene training for young women.
Gejja Women also specializes in menstrual hygiene, producing reusable sanitary pads that are distributed around the country so girls can comfortably attend classes using their pads when they get their periods.
Gejja Women focuses on mentoring and helping local women to start up their own businesses in crafts, growing mushrooms, and wine production. The company also launched a permaculture campaign that emphasizes the growing of vegetables.
Growing up in an unloving and poor family, Marjorie Atuhurra didn’t have the chance to be self-sustainable. She was born to a 16-year old father and a 14-year-old mother. Her parents weren’t married when she was born and her father refused to take care of her.
Marjorie Atuhurra was seen as a burden. Growing up, she did not feel like she had a family. Her own personal history drives her to help other people become self-reliant. As an adult, Majorie Atuhurra decided it was time to give other women the chances she had not been given in life. And seeing how people struggle to sustain themselves inspires her, too.
Her resolve to succeed is also about addressing stigmas and equality. “We would like to open the eyes of men and women to the stigmas around menstruation. We don’t need equality alone, we also need equity.”
Majorie Atuhurra knows a girl that couldn’t afford tampons, so she used banana leaves during her period. She has seen girls that even use dirty rags. This is why she uses her personal experience to produce reusable pads that most people can afford.
Majorie Atuhurra may not have travelled the world, but impacting the life of at least one rural person that can give a testimony when she’s not there is her goal.
On why women should use her products, Majorie said that women in Uganda have an urgent need for empowerment. They are underprivileged, and they still cannot always speak for their rights. She offers to help them become themselves, to sustain themselves, to take care of their bodies. Her company provides employment so that they can turn women into leaders.
Women are core pillars of a family. They need to have their freedom, and her company helps them to be free, happy, and safe. When they have all that, even the community will benefit because a woman who is able to speak for her rights is a change-maker.
In 2017, Gejja launched an initiative against stigmas around menstruation, and they have now begun to work on larger scales. The idea is to create a Gejja centre in central Uganda where everyone can feel at home. Gejja wants to provide the biggest permaculture centre and to become the leading institution for mentrual hygiene services.
Right now, the plan is to look beyond Uganda and expand into the entire East Africa region within five years. The company is also looking for international partnerships.
Majorie Atuhurra tells women: “If you want to do business, leave that shell that you have been in. Get up, use your personal experience and start working on it. You have to leave your comfort zone, and you can find more than you expect. If you stay within your perceived limits it will not work.”
She added, “So don’t settle for what you have – instead, set a goal. And I think it’s best to go together. I am not going alone, but I’m going with my fellow girls and women.”