Gender Equality Changemakers Awards | Winner Spotlight

Categories : Blog


Author: Nwabisa Mazana

Pamela Bella Nyamutoka Katooro is a lawyer with over 18 years of experience in International Development Management with technical expertise in Programme, Strategy, Innovations and Partnerships. She is also the Vice Chairperson and Director of Gender at the Digital Frontiers Association (DFA) in Uganda and also leads Gender Strategy Design and Implementation. Pamela is also the Gender COP Facilitator for Uganda and Rwanda for the DFI (Digital Frontiers Institute) Gender Equality Changemakers Programme.

Pamela was the first female Ugandan Certified Digital Finance Practitioner (Tufts University and Digital Frontiers Institute) and is extremely passionate about gender equity. As a result of this passion, she has initiated and implemented several Regional and country-based gender-inclusive Financial Inclusion programmes through public and private partnerships.

Her Final Capstone Project as part of the Gender Equality Changemakers Programme was centered around how proper gender audits need to be conducted and how a gender-responsive HR policy needs to be developed, as well as increasing the gender balance in procurement. The early success of this project saw Pamela getting 57 participants to enroll in the GEC Programme. The HR manager at her organisation becoming a gender champion and HR policies being reviewed. Furthermore, incentives such as relocation and babysitting subsidies were granted in order to encourage female agents to join the field.

Pamela is an advocate for change and is motivated by the fact that this work is offering opportunities to female-owned SMEs to procure contracts that provide increased income and better livelihoods which ultimately enables her to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.


How did you learn about Digital Frontiers Institute and the Gender Equality Changemaker programme?

I first found out about DFI back in 2018 from the then Executive Director of FSD Uganda, Jackie Mutiibwa. She had just completed the Certificate in Digital Money course and urged me to also take the course. She also informed me of the Certified Digital Finance Practitioner “CDFP” scholarship. Initially, I thought the courses were meant for finance and IT professionals but when I researched more; I realized immediately that even development professionals like me would benefit. I, therefore, decided to enroll and thus start my journey.

When the Gender Equality Changemaker course was opened; I immediately got interested as I was already serving as the Director of Gender at the Digital Frontiers Association DFA Uganda; I was also delighted to be considered as a facilitator.


Why did you decide to become a Gender Equality Changemaker?

I wanted to challenge the status quo on the aspects that perpetuate gender inequality in my environment, especially the subtle issues. For example, even with a vibrant SME support programme; internally we had a negligible number of female-owned businesses as service providers which meant that our procurement policy was still gender blind and this needed to change. Also, even with a Gender policy in place; we still had less than 10% female field-based staff which pointed to a more subtle issue than simply having a policy in place. Last but not least, I questioned whether the data on increased savings by women in our financial inclusion programme was translating into impact indicators such as increased decision-making and control of resources.


How has your journey with Digital Frontiers Institute impacted your career? 

I have become a more impact and innovation-driven professional. This has influenced how I navigate my organiation’s strategy accordingly. I have been involved in developing projects and programmes to put into practice the learning from the various courses I undertook during my CDFP and GEC journey. For example, I have designed and developed projects around digitizing agriculture, digital humanitarian systems, Digital financial inclusion, and Gender in Digital financial services. Because of the innovations, these projects have attracted more resources that have increased the impact on rural people. I have also raised my career profile as a more knowledgeable professional with the ability to influence policy agenda and advocacy for digital financial and gender services.


What were some of your favorite courses during your journey?

It is difficult to choose however Gender and Organisations, Digital Finance for All and Leading Digital Money Markets are my 3 favorite courses.


Would you be able to expand on what your capstone project was about?

My capstone project was about implementing a Gender balanced Human Resource policy specifically in the area of increasing the recruitment and retention of female field-based staff.  It also focused on instituting tools for a Gender-responsive procurement policy and making our data more gender-impact-driven.

It was aimed at ensuring that I change the organisational culture and policies to become more ‘alive’ to the subtle aspects of deep structure that happen around us even with the existence of gender policies.


What did you enjoy the most about Community of Practices and would you recommend them to others?

Absolutely! COPs are extremely informative and eye-opening because they enable the interaction of different minds on key topics. COPs also allow students to consult with each other and develop a deeper understanding of various concepts from the courses. I also enjoyed the different talks from the various guest speakers.


What impact did your Community of Practice have on your GEC journey?

I have been able to see gender from the eyes of different perspectives and this has deepened my knowledge and understanding of the unique dynamics around achieving gender equality. I have also been able to network with students from diverse backgrounds and forge organisational partnerships for joint projects to promote gender inclusiveness.


What impact have you made in your organisation or how have you challenged the status quo?

I decided to approve the recruitment of two female field staff who were in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy. This was a bold move as some of the recruiting team thought recruiting such women was going to ‘cost’ the organisation time and resources if the new recruits had to go on maternity leave very soon after getting employed.

I have also shared tools for gender-responsive procurement and also planned capacity building of the procurement committee. Lastly, I am supporting the critical analysis of gender-disaggregated data to ensure that it is more impact driven.


What is it that motivates you and what are you working to achieve?

I am motivated that this work is providing more opportunities for people to live a decent and equitable life. Opening up more female-owned SMEs to procurement contracts provides increased income and better livelihoods which ultimately enables me to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

For me, the true achievement will arrive when I influence and build a movement of several organisations that are gender inclusive and alive to the subtle issues of structural inequality in their environment with the courage to aggressively tackle these issues to achieve gender equality in our lifetimes.