Spotlight: Dr. Agnes Apea Atim on Being a Voice for the Voiceless
Vital Voice’s 2015 Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) alumna, Dr. Agnes Apea Atim is a powerful entrepreneurial and political force to be reckoned with in Uganda. Agnes is the Founder and CEO of Hope Co-ops, a women farmer’s cooperative, engaged in organic agriculture to earn income and fight injustice. Hope Co-ops’ vision is to economically empower rural women to fight injustices, and they are on a mission to unlock the leadership, citizenship, and entrepreneurial potential of millions of rural women through agribusiness.
Dr. Apea is currently a Member of Parliament in Uganda and the former Executive Chairperson of the Local Government Finance Commission of Uganda. Prior to establishing Hope Co-ops, Agnes was an international development professional with over 20 years of experience working with national and international development agencies in policy, research, and program development. She also worked as a gender and development consultant with the United Nations and Commonwealth in Africa and Asia. She was listed among 100 most influential women in the world by British BroadCasting Cooperation “BBC 100 Women 2017: Who is on the list?”. She was named Africa Most Influential Woman in Agriculture Award by CEO Globa, She is also a recipient of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs’ Honorary Award, the Cordaid Home Based Care Award, Columbia University’s Human Rights Advocacy Award, and the University of Reading’s Social Science Studentship Award.
Agnes’s desire for political leadership stems from her long career in development and social business with a quest to economically empower women to address social problems and achieve justice. Dr. Apea felt that she needed to be at the policy decision-making table to bring the voices of the silenced for effective and efficient service and promotion of women’s rights, and that is what she did.
Agnes’s entrepreneurial background and focus on solutions motivate her to bring voices to the voiceless every day. She believes that entrepreneurship should be driven by a passion for solving existing social problems. Being almost obsessed with her social enterprise keeps her strong and focused during the challenges of her political and entrepreneurial journey.
As a Member of Parliament, Agnes has worked with colleagues to ensure that women-related bills are tabled in parliament. As the Deputy of the Committee of Agriculture and a member of the Budget Committee, Agnes actively ensures that agriculture policies and funding recognize and support women in Agriculture. Additionally, the Committee of Agriculture is currently processing a fisheries bill which Agnes is keenly making sure that issues and inequities of women in the fisheries sector is effectively addressed.
Agnes accredits her success in her political journey to her persistence, passion to serve, and her network and lessons learned from Vital Voices. According to Agnes, “GAP, VV100, and VVEngage were all well-crafted programs that planted and natured the leader in me”, and being a leader means being the voice for women without a voice. If she could offer any advice to aspiring women leaders, it is to “focus, mentor, network, learn and relearn.”
You can learn more about Agnes and her work through the following: