Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Wednesday October 2nd, 2019 was another exciting day as the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) marked the end of yet another mentoring camp for young leaders.
The 26th cohort Leadership Camp closing ceremony, was like each of the 25 before it, unique in many ways. However, as usual, it was again characterized by joy, boldness, inspiration, testimonies, laughter and tears as a new generation of young women was unleashed to challenge the status quo, and transform society.
“I hope you continue to find your voice. Find that thing that you are passionate about. I also hope that voice continues to get bolder,” said Helena Okiring, a FOWODE board member as she gave the camp’s Closing Speech.
“A voice doesn’t get bolder by becoming louder,” Okiring cautioned the graduands, ” It becomes bolder when you master your craft. Go and read, go and study.”
The 11-day residential camp was closed at Foyer De Charite Namugongo Kyoto by the day’s chief guest, Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding. The camp gathered 45 young women from various districts of Uganda including Amuria, Luweero, Sororti, Masindi, Rukungiri, Kabale, Arua and Hoima.
The camp candidates include students, young women leaders, young professionals, entrepreneurs and organization leaders.
The Alternative and Transformative Leadership Camp is one of the instrumental mechanisms to replenish women’s leadership in the country and aims to produce bold young women leaders.
Fowode boasts of cadre of 810 Almuni who are engaged in various leadership positions in institutions of higher learning, private sector, politics and within their communities. After this years camp, the alumni number is rising to 855.
Patricia Munabi is the Executive Director of Forum for Women in Democracy, that “pushes the boundaries and believes in building a movement of women with courage of conviction, voice, power and resources whilst engaging men in nurturing democratic space.”
Since 1995, FOWODE has been a key player in the women’s movement and is part of a history that opened the way for thousands of Ugandan women to have a voice in the public arena. They have trained over 20,000 women to navigate the political landscape and to elevate the impact of their leadership contributing to an increase in legislation that reflects women’s and girls’ priorities.
To replenish women’s leadership and build young women’s agency, FOWODE has mentored over 800 young leaders in alternative and transformative leadership since 2004.
Skit crowns day
One of the highlights of the 26th cohort Leadership Camp closing ceremony was a skit on human trafficking. The plan is for the same skit to be acted in parliament, and end with a petition to the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
The skit (video below) summarises the highs and very many lows that Ugandan girls especially suffer when they head to the Middle East looking for jobs.
The 26th cohort appealed to Media houses to stop advertising by companies that ferry young people for jobs in the Middle East. The asked, “We must end human trafficking. We are going to act. Will you?”
During the training, several speakers were invited to talk to the girls, which was crowned by a session on Public Speaking and Communication by CEO of Success Africa and ‘Merchant of Success’ Ethan Musoloni.
The list of those invited to inspire and talk to the girls include Dr Syliva Tamale, Lina Zedriga, Kevin Namata, Mary Nanyomo, Fatumate Toure, Leonard Okello, Georgia Tumwesigye, Perry Aritua, Suzan Okae, Priscilla Nabatanzi, Solome Nakweesi, Janat Kayondo and Hellena Okiring.
“When i set out to apply for this training, it didn’t occur to me that I would be empowered like I have been. My anxiety has been triggered and I can gladly say that this camp exceeded my expectations and my questions have been answered,” said Sheila Abaho.
“As days went by, we discovered ourselves, networked and we are now ready to start a new journey that will help us fulfill our dreams in life.”
Shanita Kyaligonza, a social worker and student of law at Uganda Christian University, said, “From this camp, I have learnt to speak. To speak about the things that silence us. To speak about the things that hurt us. I will no longer be silent.”
SEE BOTTOM FOR SPEECHES AND VIDEOS
TEXT AND VIDEO – The 26th Cohort Leadership Camp CLOSING SPEECH by Helena Okiring
I hope you continue to find your voice. Find that thing that you are passionate about.
I also hope that voice continues to get bolder. A voice doesn’t get bolder by becoming louder.
It becomes bolder when you master your craft. Go and read, go and study.
One of the challenges our generation has is an entitlement complex.
We do not respect process. These things take time. I do not want you to become a microwave leader. There is microwave pizza, in 5 minutes it is done. But it is cold at the centre.
Oven-made pizza is different. The crust is ripe and it is hot at its core. Finding your voice is about making sure you are hot everywhere.
Do the work you need to do, find your voice and make it bolder. Read if you must read, write if you must write, connect with those you must connect with…but in doing so, for everything that you put into yourself, your confidence will increase. The things that you do will be more creative because you are investing in making your voice more effective.
I hope you find friendships to make your journey more colourful, leadership can be challenging, it can be lonely. I hope this family that you have found, and the more you will find along the way, will make your journey more enjoyable.
Keep in touch with your friends.
It make a difference who you journey with. I hope you find friends, I hope you find companions to share your leadership journey with.
Importantly, I hope you find yourself. Some of us think there is only one version of you. NO.
You are in constant growth, you are in constant evolution, and you are becoming a different woman in every season. Sometimes you will be terrified.
Maybe when you become a mother that may be scary, or you take on your first role as a volunteer you will feel this is not the plan for my life.
Trust that you are becoming a better version of yourself. As you grow, as you evolve, as you transform, I hope you will enjoy and savour every version of you, because it is important.
If you had asked me 13 years ago if I would be a member of the board, I would have laughed. Why? Because I had all the problems adolescents girls have – rowdy, loud, all over the place.
But it was for a purpose. I just found a space and the mentors to channel that constructively.
Embrace who you are, enjoy your journey. Go and be great.