Interview: Joan Kembabazi, Gufasha Girls Foundation, Uganda

Gufasha Girls Foundation (GGF) is a non-profit community-based organization whose primary work is to advocate against child marriage and promote girls’ education.  Founded in 2016 and headquartered at the Kayunga District, Uganda, the Foundation is committed to reaching the most vulnerable girl children to change their lives, give them hope and build a generation of empowered girls and women. 

In this connection, PEAH had the pleasure to interview Joan Kembabazi as Gender Equality Activist and Founder & Team Leader of Gufasha Girls Foundation 

 By Daniele Dionisio

PEAH – Policies for Equitable Access to Health


Joan Kembabazi 

Gender Equality Activist and Founder & Team Leader of Gufasha Girls Foundation (GGF)

…I dream of a world where every girl attains the opportunity to access quality education to be able to be whoever and whatever they want to be, finds and owns her voice and uses it to stand against any form of violence and discrimination… 

(Joan Kembabazi) 

PEAH: As a non-profit organization whose primary work is to advocate against child marriage and promote girls’ education, Gufasha Girls Foundation strives to ensure that all girls in Uganda can stay in school, stay healthy and have the futures they dream of. Can you tell us more about? 

Kembabazi: Gufasha Girls Foundation is a grassroot community–based organization in Uganda dedicated to ending child marriage and promoting girls’ education through a holistic approach that challenges and dismantles barriers, negative social and cultural norms and all challenges facing girls and ensures that they have the opportunity to thrive and build a better future for themselves and their communities. Our approach includes girls’ education advocacy, community engagements, child marriage prevention and intervention and capacity building.

PEAH: Now, let us in on the plight of child marriage, as part of the history of the Foundation and the origin of its name

Kembabazi: The origin of the name of “Gufasha Girls Foundation” traces back on my personal story of the loss of my childhood best friend, Gufasha Moureen who was married off at the age of 13 to a 62 year old man. Gufasha  was denied her right to education and her parents insisted that she was old enough to get married. While in marriage, she lived a life filled with violence, rape, abuse and most times food. At time of child birth, she couldn’t make it and lost her life and the baby too. This hurt me so deep.  And with time, I realized there were so many girls like Gufasha who were being married off even as young as 11 years in my community. This inspired me to start off my advocacy work to raise awareness on the devastating effects of child marriage  and founded a grassroot coomunity-based organization that I named in memory of my best friend. This is how and where Gufasha Girls Foundation originates from.

 PEAHHow many girls is Gufasha Girls Foundation currently looking after? 

Kembabazi: Gufasha Girls Foundation is currently supporting more than 2000 adolescent girls through our grassroot initiatives including Leadership and Empowerment training actvities, Menstrual health and Management products and awareness, Education Sponsorships and SRHR education and services.

PEAHWhat about Gufasha Girls Foundation mission, vision and values?

Kembabazi: Our Mission is to end child marriage and empower girls and young women in Uganda through Advocacy, Capacity building and Education support.

Our Vision is a world in which every girl achieves her fullest potential and contributes to all aspects of life.

Our values are: Community transformation, Passion, Accountability and Transparency.

PEAHYour programs include ‘End Child Marriage, Girl Child Education, Menstrual Health & Hygiene Management’. Can you please detail in depth?

Kembabazi: We work to end Child Marriage because it is a violation of girls’ rights and we believe that girls should and must enjoy their rights including a right to just be a girl/child. We work closely with communities to challenge and change negative traditional and cultural norms and beliefs that force girls into marriage before 18 Years. We do this through community dialogues, collaborating with local, traditional and religious leaders, health workers, social media advocacy, safe spaces and school clubs and various advocacy campaigns.

We advocate for advocating for gender transformative education in schools and communities to break stereotypes around girls’ education.Through our #SheThrives Education Sponsorship program, we currently support education of 13 girls.

Proper Menstrual Health and Management is a fundamental right for girls and we educate girls about MHM and support  them with sanitary products to enable them stay in school and menstruate with pride and dignity.

PEAHAs for the results achieved by Gufasha so far?

Kembabazi: Gufasha Girls Foundation has successfully raised awareness about the harmful effects of child marriage within local communities of Uganda leading to a shift in attitudes and perceptions towards the practice.

We have been able to implement child marriage prevention and response programs in communities which has led to the decline in the practice rates.

Our Leadership and Empowerment sessions for adolescent girls  has enabled girls to assert their rights, resist pressure to marry early, and pursue their educational and career aspirations.

We have provided age-appropriate Sexual Reproductive Health Rights information and services to adolescent girls which has recorded a decline in teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDs contraction, STIs and school dropouts among girls.

PEAHDoes Gufasha work together with national and/or international partners? 

Kembabazi: Yes, we work with both national and international partners that we share the same vision with. Our partners include: Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) which is hosted by the World Health Organization, Tranform Education (TE) which is hosted by the UN Girls Education Intitiative; and grassroot partners that share the same vision of transforming communities include Joy for Children, Raising Teenagers and Tard Foundation.

PEAHWhat are your own duties and tasks in Gufasha Girls Foundation?

Kembabazi: – I lead the Team at Gufasha Girls Foundation.

I work with the team to set goals and strategies for the organisation, ensuring they align with the needs of the communities we work for and with.

I represent the organisation in public forums and media.

I secure funding and resources to sustain and expand the organisations programs and initiatives

I build networks, partnerships and collaborations with different organizations and stakeholders for the organization.

PEAHThanks to you and the Gufasha team for the excellent, very commendable work