Creating change for girls in Uganda
Meet the youth advocates tackling gender-based violence
Please note: this story contains references to sexual violence and abuse which some people may find upsetting
Meet Fiona, Faridah and Rowlings, three youth advocates from Uganda.
Together, they’re determined to create change for girls and tackle gender-based violence, from child marriage, sexual harassment and trafficking to the issue of sexual exploitation in the workplace.
“With Plan Uganda, we are advocating for a stop to the sexual exploitation of girls at work,” says Fiona.
She's a member of her district Gender Advocacy Team, and a youth advocate for the Girls Advocacy Alliance, which is focussed on tackling three forms of gender-based violence in Uganda: child marriage, commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.
“We advocate for the enactment of policies in the informal sector, in bars, restaurants, hotels and small businesses," she explains.
"Sometimes the owners of these bars start by promising you, ‘I’ll get you a job, I’ll do this for you’. But in the end, they sleep with you and after they have sex with you, you will not get the job. You have been exploited.”
"It’s very important because many girls are affected.”
For Faridah, securing equal opportunities for girls, and a better world for her daughter to grow up in, is critical.
She’s part of Plan International’s Safer Cities programme in Kampala, which is working with girls to tackle the harassment and exploitation they’re facing every day, and to create safer environments for them to live and work in.
She’s also a Champion for Change and in 2018, she called on world leaders to stand up for girls’ rights at the UN General Assembly.
“The only way girls will achieve is if they are not being exploited. I want to see girls celebrating their rights as equally as boys,” she says.
“I want my daughter to grow up and enjoy what I never enjoyed. I’m looking for equality for my children and for other children in Uganda. I hope to change very many girls’ lives.”
Like Fiona, Rowlings is also part of the Girls Advocacy Alliance, and recognises the role boys and young men need to play if ending sexual exploitation in the workplace is to be achieved.
“I want to see a generation where girls are not exploited, where we men see them as sisters, friends, colleagues, as people we can consult, not as people we are supposed to step on,” he says.
“Let’s start nurturing the young male, start talking to them, that respect for girls is good.”
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