Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) is conducting the 19th Alternative and Transformative Leadership Training (mentoring camp) from 26th June to 4th July 2017 at Foyer de Charite in Kampala. The residential camp brings together 45 young women from 29 districts in the four regions of Uganda. The camp trainees include young professionals, entrepreneurial women leaders and those that have just completed their tertiary education.
The journey begun on Sunday 25th June 2017 with the arrival of the ladies at FOWODE, all excited and eager to be transported to Foyer de Charite, Spiritual Resort Namugongo.
On arrival at the venue, many of the trainees were awestruck by the greenery and serene atmosphere that came with Foyer De Charite. As they walked to their rooms you could hear mumbles and whispers of leaders proud to be among the lucky few chosen to participate in the acclaimed leadership training. The main aim of the training is to build a young leadership with a vision and commitment to gender equality, social justice and social transformation.
26th June 2017, the first day of the camp, saw the young leaders “slay” with their black outfits to mark Black Monday, in unity with many other activists standing up to say “NO TO CORRUPTION!
In her introductory remarks, the Executive Director of FOWODE, Patricia Munabi Babiiha reiterated that minds can be rendered casualty, demobilized or rendered harmless BUT they can also be fired into action, take defensive positions or advance. She noted that when minds advance in the quest for greater and better humanity, then transformation is taking place, and this was the main objective for the leadership training. The ED noted that leaders must be aware of themselves and identify emotionally, intellectually, and epistemologically with their community. She stressed the fact that good leaders cannot afford to be neutral or “fence sitters.” They need to be in touch with their inner selves and understand who they are, who their people are, how they feel about specific issues and why, these questions inform women and men’s political, economic and social experiences and must thus be accorded priority.
The training was officially opened by the Guest of Honor, Hon. Miria Matembe, a former MP, who thanked FOWODE for creating an open space for young women to contribute to the struggle for gender equality. She encouraged them to let the training usher them into God’s purpose for their lives, which is their vision. She emphasized that as young leaders, they must follow their mental ‘SHAPE’ that summarizes God’s purpose for them on earth:
She also challenged the participants to learn from their role models but also to learn from the issues that affect their lives in order to become influential leaders with a fundamental impact.
Fired by role models who include Dr. Miria Matembe, Dr. Winnie Byanyima, Joyce Tamale, Dr. Kigozi, and Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, among others the young leaders were overflowing with expectations that ranged from unlearning the negative things they have learned throughout their lives, learning about gender equality and human rights to being empowered with advocacy skills that will help them transform society.
Juliet Nakato Odoi, the Program Director at FOWODE took the participants through the Gender and Development session. She defined key concepts including gender, gender equality, equity, stereotypes and gender mainstreaming among others. She noted that gender is a social construct of roles and behaviors that a society typically associates with males and females and it is important for leaders to understand these society arrangements to effectively address inequalities between men and women, boys and girls. The participants shared examples of things they are expected to do because they were female and how these affected their lives. For example, some noted that as new employees, they were expected to make tea for others even though this was not what they were employed for.
Ms. Odoi traced the main trends in the way women’s issues have been conceptualized in the development context over time, moving from Women in Development (WID) to Women and Development (WAD) and finally to Gender and Development (GAD). WID only focused on women’s participation in development and not the underlying power dynamics that saw the need for the GAD approach.
Later in the evening, the participants’ minds were teased by the ‘Me and My community’ topic introduced by Juliet Luutu Barasa. Divided according to the four regions of Uganda (central, west, east and north), participants were asked to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of their regions, their perceptions of other regions and finally wrap it up with their culture dances. The exercise sought to show the importance of a leader knowing the positives and negatives of their community and also demonstrate to the participants how certain problems like gender based violence, early marriages and school drop outs affect all regions. Ms. Luutu noted that despite our reverence for culture, it is the source of many aspects of gender inequality.
She also guided the participants to reflect on how the various challenges faced in their communities affect women. For example, deforestation affects the climate causing irregular rains and drought which in turn affects agriculture where the majority of Ugandan women are employed. She also highlighted the insecurity in refugee camps where young girls and women are raped. She stressed the fact that there are numerous differences among individuals and it is important for leaders to embrace and celebrate diversity.
This marked the end of the first day of the camp trainees at Foyer de Charite.