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FOWODE trains new crop of ‘Matembes’, ‘Byanyimas’

Some of the 30 young women from across the country who have just concluded the 24th Alternative and Transformative Leadership Training by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) in Namugongo, Kampala.  PHOTO VIA @mauryn70

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | “This camp has taught me how to be more positive in life….Winnie Byanyima inspires me and I would like to be an MP one day,” said Judith Ninsima from Mbarara, when she was called in to share her experience at the end of a leadership training camp for young women held in Kampala last week.

Another participant added,”I learned that I should stop complaining about the leaders in power if am not playing my role”. That was followed by another testimony from Lira that left guests crying tears of both joy and sadness.

“I was happy when a man offered to pay my fees because my parents couldn’t but in exchange he asked me to get pregnant for him, and I now have HIV.  I am thankful for this FOWODE Camp for giving me this opportunity to be a better person,” the participant said in her testimony, adding “because of this FOWODE Camp, I braved up and opened up on this. Thankfully, my son is safe and free from HIV.”

The two testimonies echoed a common theme expressed by 30 young women from across the country who have just concluded the 24th Alternative and Transformative Leadership Training organised by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) November 11-17 at Foyer de Charite in Namugongo, Kampala.

The annual FOWODE Camps aim to “build young leaders that have a vision and commitment to gender equality, social justice and social transformation; Train the youth to critically assess local and global challenges and work independently in finding solutions.”

Participants include young women leaders, young professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders of organizations and fresh graduates. One of them at this year’s camp is Jennifer Aroch, who recently graduated with a Bachelors in Business Administration from Gulu University.

The young women, from varying professions, all confessed to being better skilled and readier now to take on leadership roles in their districts of Amuria, Gulu, Kabale, Kampala, Kamuli, Kanungu, Kisoro, Lyantonde, Buyende, Luwero, Masindi, Mityana, Mukono, Namisandwa, Rakai, Ruburizi, Rukungiri, Soroti, Ssembule, Kapchorwa and Wakiso.

They told of how trailblazers in Uganda women’s emancipation campaign had inspired them. Particularly mentioned were current OXFAM International director and former MP Winnie Byanyima and Miria Matembe, another former MP and once Ethics Minister.

Matembe and the 5Cs of leadership

The FOWODE Camp participants got their wish, and Matembe as chief guest gave a detailed lecture on what should drive them into leadership.

She stressed that while the battle has started, there is a long way to go. She showed the age gap between today’s young leaders and the trailblazers when she asked if any of the participants knew about Dr Wandira Kazibwe, who had played an important role in the earlier years. Few seemed to know.

Wandira Kazibwe was Uganda’s first woman Vice President, from 1994 to 2003. She was the first woman in Africa to hold the position of vice-president of a sovereign nation.

Matembe then addressed the issues of gender, governance and alternative leadership, feminism in Africa, gender and development, conflict and human rights.

She said  today’s young women are lucky to have many mentors to look up to. “I was mentored by the problems around me. I did not have women to follow,” she narrated.

“We need many women at political leadership level, because decisions made at that level affect all areas of life. Unless women are educated and informed, they will not be able to influence all areas of their life,” she warned.

She explained that from her experience, the key to successful leadership are ‘Consistency’; ‘Choice’ – do you make decisions to benefit the people or yourself?; ‘Character’ – are you building your image or integrity; ‘Credibility’ and ‘Credit’. She illustrated her points by showing the changing fortunes of controversial Ugandan politicians Betty Kamya and Beatrice Anywar.

FOWODE is a national women’s rights organisation established in 1995. It has since 2004 mentored young leaders in Alternative and transformative leadership and boasts of a cadre of 685 alumni after last weeks camp.



  1. I love seeing girls and women being empowered
    …am so interested but were can I start from or what I do..thank you…

  2. Yes! Finally something about actually dating.

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