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‘One day I will be a Woman Councillor, then MP’

Some of the alumni and new graduates from across the country at the close of the 25th Alternative and Trans-formative Leadership Training by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) in Namugongo, Kampala.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | “One day I will be a Woman Councillor, then a member of Parliament. My focus will be on reducing violence against women which has been a persistent problem in my area,” said Jane Bisando, as the latest Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) leadership camp closed on Monday.

“Aiming high”, being “in control of your life” and “transforming society” are ideals and actions that all who go through the FOWODE Alternative and Trans-formative Leadership camp, are trained to embrace.

While politics is the long term goal, sexual reproductive health and rights is an area that is keeping Bisando from Nebbi busy, and she has for the past year shared skills from the camp on how make pads for those who cannot afford.

Her efforts have seen her win funding from MENTRO and Canandian International Development Agency (CIDA) international to train young girls in her community on how make paper bags and re-usable pads.

Some of the girls use the extra pads to earn a living. She believes that economic empowerment is essential if girls are to be independent and achieve their dreams.

Bisando, currently a Ledger Reconciliation Officer at Uganda Revenue Authority, was one of several alumni from the 24th camp, who joined the 25th camp during eight days of training and at their graduation after a “bold and value driven Transformative Leadership camp” May 20, 2019 at Foyer de Charite (Namugongo – Kyoto) in Kampala.

The eight-day residential camp had 45 young women from various districts of Uganda.

Guest of honour Winnie Kiiza hands out certificates to Alumni from 2018.

Winnie Kiiza hails FOWODE

Former Leader of Opposition in the Ugandan Parliament and current Woman MP Kasese Winnie Kiiza was chief guest. She hailed FOWODE for mentoring young leaders.

“You do not have to adhere to the norms of society,” she told the camp. “Believe in yourself, each one has an exceptional quality he can give society.”

She encouraged them to aim high, saying she was inspired to fight for social justice by pioneer women’s rights leaders Winnie Byanyima, Cecilia Ogwal and Miria Matembe. Kiiza went on to become the first woman leader of the opposition.

She said there is a need to go beyond the numbers when discussing women’s role in Parliament, and look for bold and value driven leadership. “We need to ask the questions, are our leaders doing what they are meant to do? Are they leading us through value driven leadership?”

FOWODE  Executive Director Patricia Munabi Babiiha said 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.”

Munabi Babiiha, Vice-Chairperson Board of Governors FOWODE Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku and Programme Director Elizabeth Ampairwe together with chief guest Kiiza were clad in black, marking the Black Monday fight against corruption in Uganda.

FOWODE has now held 25 leadership camps for the last 15 years and trained 810 young leaders. It intends to reach out of young men in various forums, but so far has only one male graduate from a 2009 camp – Ali Kaviri who is currently a team leader at Youth Equality centre.

“In 2004, we thought of how we can replenish leadership in our country and since then, we have held 25 leadership camps. We encourage the young women and men to go into leadership to espouse the qualities of social justice and to influence change in their societies.”


FOWODE  Executive Director Patricia Munabi Babiiha (right), Vice-Chairperson Board of Governors Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku (left), Programme Director Elizabeth Ampairwe (second left) and graduate Sheena Kamihegeyo welcome chief guest Winnie Kiiza. BELOW, testimonies, a dance, the only male to have made the camp in 14 years, and a poem ‘arise, art thou woman’. PHOTOS LOUIS JADWONG


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