International Women’s Day: Jean Sseninde

Thursday 8 March 2018 is International Women’s Day and a time to encourage collective action for driving gender equality.

The theme is #PressforProgress, a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

At Palace for Life Foundation, we have been hearing from some of the women from the CPFC family who #PressforProgress in their everyday lives and careers.

Jean Sseninde is a defender for Palace Ladies FC and Uganda, also creating the Sseninde Foundation to help empower women and girls in Uganda through education and sport. She was also the first African player to join Juan Mata’s Common Goal initiative, donating a minimum of 1% of her salary to charity.

Jean Sseninde making the #PressforProgress sign at Palace Ladies training

When you were younger, how easy was it to find an opportunity to play football with other girls?

It wasn’t easy, I actually never got a chance to play with other girls until I was in high school. It was really hard, especially in Uganda where football is a sport that is culturally perceived to be mostly for men. I only used to play with my brother in the compound at home and never got a chance until secondary school to play with other girls. It’s something that hurts me a little because sometimes I wish I had girls to play with in my early stages – if I did maybe I would be really good by now.

Who were your role models growing up?

My role models have always been my mum and dad. They have taught me how to be an exemplary person and help other people. Since I was young, I have seen them be so hardworking and help people in society who needed help. I want to be like that and more. I want to be a global icon.

What have been your highlights since you started playing for Palace Ladies?

My highlight since I started playing for Palace Ladies has been the step up in my game. The way I play has changed tremendously because the tempo here is so high. Playing alongside the best players has been great too because it’s nice learning from them. I hope I continue to grow, learn and improve my game.

What challenges (if any) have you faced as a woman in your career and life?

Ever since my football career began in Uganda, women have been getting a lower salary than the men so its been a challenge. Often, women have to have other jobs as well which is such a strain.

The slogan for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. How do you #PressforProgress and aim to inspire girls and women through what you do?

I want to see women’s football get to greater heights. #PressforProgress is such a good campaign. I have always endeavoured to do my coaching badges so that I can teach lots of girls how to play when they are young – an opportunity I never got. I want to see girls go professional and that’s why I have started the Sseninde Women’s Development Cup in Uganda – to give all girls opportunities to play and grow the number of girls playing football. I also go to various communities in Uganda and encourage girls to get involved in football.

Hopefully in the future I will get opportunities to travel all over Africa and the world to encourage more girls and press for progress. I will make sure I do my part and press for progress even if it means sacrificing a few things.