Francesca Uriri on telling the stories of African Women

Everyone knows Francesca Uriri but not everyone knows who Francesca Uriri is, tell us about yourself.

Haha! I like that not everyone knows the “who,” and it’s deliberate.  In a world of social media and rapid-fire consumption, there’s always the danger of being over-exposed, and I think it’s important to keep some parts of yourself quietly tucked away. 

That being said I see myself as a Corporate Communications Leader, Gender Equality Expert and Inclusion & Equity Advocate. I also love jollof rice, moi-moi, taking long walks, reading, praying, journaling, dreaming, and traveling — in no particular order. 🙂 

It’s really amazing seeing a woman get up and decide to do what you do, what was the inspiration for Leading Ladies Africa?

I wanted to see a space where African women especially were celebrated and highlighted for their impact and achievements. I wanted to tell the stories of these women, and use that as inspiration to motivate the generations coming behind them. At the time I had this vision, there wasn’t a platform doing that sort of thing, so I decided to create one. 12 years later, after many iterations, this is where we are today. 

Building Leading Ladies Africa you must have faced some challenges, talk us through them.

We’re still building! 

It’s a challenge to have a dream and achieve it. It’s a challenge to get people to believe in and support that dream. It’s a challenge to keep going when you encounter disappointment, delays and obstacles. It’s a challenge to not have the right team to support certain goals and objectives. It’s a challenge to expand and grow, when you want to remain the same. At every given point of our journey as LLA, we’ve witnessed challenges, but all of those (in hindsight) have been opportunities to build muscle and become even more resilient. 

It’s a good thing that you picked a niche obviously to focus on but why African women?

Why not African women? Who is telling our stories? Who is amplifying our impact and achievement? Who is reminding the world that we have been rulers, queens and warriors for centuries? Who are those solving some of the continent’s most pressing challenges? It’s African women. So when you ask why us, I say, why not us? If not us, then who?

What is the idea behind LLA 100 Women Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria List ?Talk to us about your consistency in curating this list consecutively for 9 years.

The idea of the list really came from wanting to highlight and showcase the achievements and impacts Nigerian women make and continue to make all over the world. We have Nigerian women scientists, artists, politicians, astronauts, stylists, doctors, musicians, civic sector leaders, public officials, etc who are making a positive impact, not just in Nigeria, but all over the world. So this list is our way of showcasing and celebrating their work and of course showing how incredibly diverse and unique they are. And we’ve done it for 9 years consecutively because we believe it’s important to keep telling these stories. I’m also glad that several other women-led organizations now have some version of their own #100Women list. We were the only ones doing it when we started 9 years ago. 

Now the world is slowly beginning to see the importance and the roles African women can and will play in all sectors of life but when it comes to leadership positions in politics most African countries are still doing poorly at that, what’s your take on why this is still the same and how it can be solved?

As women we have to play the long game and stay focused on the goal. There’s still deeply rooted cultural, religious, political and systematic bias against women, not just in politics, but in business and in the workplace. So we must keep pressing forward, keep showing up, and keep pulling up to the proverbial table, even when we are not invited.

Men must also do a better job of being allies and advocating for women as well, because that is an element that proves incredibly important. 

Congratulations on being named as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent, how did it feel? 

It felt really good. To be recognized by a platform that recognizes the impact of Africans on Africa and beyond. I was really honored and humbled to be named in the company of those changing the world. 

When you’re not working hard, what would you be caught doing?

This is a very good question. One that I’m now determined to have a better answer for in future. I like to read – all kinds of things, travel, take walks, enjoy nature, spend time with family and friends, and eat. So I’m being more deliberate now about pausing to smell the roses. 

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