Ugandan Alumna Selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship | Leadership Impact Award

Ugandan Alumna Selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship 

Leadership Impact Award

U.S. Mission Uganda is pleased to announce that Jamila Mayanja, a 2015 Ugandan Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) alumna, is the winner of the 2023 Leadership Impact Award.  This annual award recognizes the individual achievements of one member of the nearly 6,000 strong Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Network.  Jamila was selected from among hundreds of nominations of alumni who have made a significant impact in their communities upon their return from the program.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).  Since 2014, nearly 5,800 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the Fellowship.  The program fosters closer relations between Americans and fellows from 49 Sub-Saharan African countries and empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and local community engagement.

Speaking about Jamila’s award, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown, said “Jamila is one of the most active, passionate, creative, innovative, and impactful alumni. We are proud of her work with Smart Girls Uganda and the leadership she provides in the alumni community.”

Jamila Mayanja is the Founder and CEO of Smart Girls Uganda, a non-profit organization that equips young women with hands-on vocational and practical skills through their Girls with Tools skilling program. They have also innovated a water-proof Solar Smart Bag that includes reusable sanitary pads and a solar panel that charges a light bulb so the girls can stay safe walking to school and can read at night, enabling the young girls stay in school.

To date, Smart Girls has reached more than 30,000 girls with their signature Solar Smart Bag menstrual kits (including 10,000 who have consequently stayed in school), 300 women with skills-based training in male-dominated career trades like electrical and mechanical engineering, and 50 women with career placement opportunities. The organization’s efforts have had a huge impact on the families and communities of women and girls across Uganda.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government-funded program. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit

For additional information, please contact:

Dorothy Nanyonga
Strategic Communications Specialist
U.S. Embassy Kampala