24th April, 2021
Imagine a world where Women, regardless of the generation/age differences sit at a round table and speak woman to woman about their challenges, experiences but most importantly discuss about resilience and the art of “Becoming”. A world where women don’t have to self-pity or even victim blame amongst themselves especially in this cultural and patriarchal dominated era. A world where women never had to look at themselves as obstacles to evolution and development but rather the true leaders, change makers, innovators and creators, they really are!
Well, we got to witness all this during the Youth Dialogue that happened 23rd April 2021 organized by the Gender and Women empowerment Cluster under the Youth Coalition for SDGs in Uganda in coordination with the SDG Secretariat under the Office of the Prime and the UN Family headed by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office; with intent to shape the “Mentorship Walk”, a culture Women in Leadership have built here in Uganda.
In commemoration of the International Women’s Day under the theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in the COVID-19 World,” this dialogue mainly aimed at highlighting issues and experiences affecting women and girls, especially in a COVID-19 World and to discuss the role of Women’s access to leadership in securing a more equal COVID-19 World and to provide an opportunity for mentor-ship of Young Women and men to lead community and national development processes, including through Gender Equality!
It was clearly noted that Gender Based Violence still remained an issue Young Women faced in Leadership science and business fields had to fight bravely against, it not only blocked access to opportunities but it also checked the Confidence and Courage of the many Young Women Leaders here in Uganda. “Confidence is different from arrogance,” quoted Ms. Sheila Ngatia the UNDP Deputy Representative as she shared her experience in leadership. “Always know what drives and motivates you and as you rise, take others with you.” She added.
Ms. Jackie Asimwe, an African philanthropist and the Executive Director from CivSource Africa painted a vivid picture on the importance of investing in family as she shared her experience of her first Gender conference that happened in her home when girls were courageous enough to interrogate sharing of housework roles in her home she grew up. “Whether the offering was burnt, that wasn’t the point, she mentioned. The fact our brothers did equally the same housework brought fulfilment and recognition that we are all equal before God, she added. Taking it to Leadership and the need to have 50/50 representation of Women in high leadership positions, she clearly noted the need to address issues like Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management to create cleaner and safer environments for Young Women Leaders to thrive. “If condoms can be free and systemically supplied to all public places, why not sanitary products a monthly requirement for Adolescent Girls and Young Women?” She commented.
Some of the stereotypes Young Women in fields of Leadership, Business and Science have had to deal with on their way to the top include and about women having more money than men being detrimental to families and this was addressed by the need for men to understand that it was okay for women to be bread winners, much as economic and financial issues needed to be family oriented, Young women leaders were encouraged to stop at nothing to achieve success_ Ms Barbara Buyondo the C.E.O UWEAL commented.
“One thing COVID-19 taught us is, it was ok and easy for people to work from home,” Ms Adekemi Ndieli the Deputy Country representative UN Women in Uganda commented. She encouraged Women in Leadership to have flexible working schedules for their staff.
Integrity, transparency, unity and empathy were some of the key values that were attributed to good leadership. Acknowledgement of each other’s’ efforts and contribution to your personal and community development was very key, the UN Resident Coordinator H.E Rosa Malango mentioned in her closing remarks of the Youth Dialogue. “Find your voice and follow it,” an important message she left for the Young Women Leaders as she officially closed the day’s mentoring session.
At the end of it all, its about the sisterhood. Supporting and uplifting each other in such a period. Having and creating safe spaces and circles we can openly talk it, issue it out baring in mind that we are doing this for the next generation leaders. We pay it forward, that way the Women’s movement is stronger and unstoppable.