There are usually a number of thrilling mysteries that come with being a University student. Other than the new diverse environment, the lectures, new freedom, dances, parties and all, there are also the serious scenarios like the tests, course works, exams, getting results and fieldwork! This article is no talk about the former excitements but the latter. As one goes through the routine of study yearly, year two comes with the anxiety of fieldwork training and its usually not easy to find placement for this drill. Even when it is easy to find a place, as students, we are always anxious for our baby steps into the field of work and practice.
On the 5th of June, I made my way to Action forDevelopment (ACFODE) located at ACFODE house inBukoto. As luck would have it, I had found placement in this indigenous voluntary Non –Governmental women’s Organization- something I had been praying for in a while. I secured placement with two other colleagues, which calmed my fears of what internship would be.On reaching ACFODE, the sincere reception given to my colleagues and I warmed us up and extracted out the least of our alarms of what our experience would be in this place.
During internship, one is bound to experience some highs and lows. There will be times when you question everything you’ve learned so far and then there will be times when you feel on top of the world but interning with a team like ACFODE makes it a worthwhile venture.
I made a presentation on behalf of my group
ACFODE has a diligentstaff that comprises a team of women and men who work zealously, civilly and most admirable, share their knowledge and skills with the young generation who usually frequent the headquarters for volunteer and internship work.
As part of my internship tasks, I had chance to reviewa statistical report about the different forms of gender inequality and violence against women in Uganda, I got acquainted with the statistics of adolescents aged 15-19 years in Uganda who begun child bearing at a tender age, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF 2015) and was shocked to discover that 21.9% of women in Uganda have ever experienced sexual violence. This is documented in the Uganda Demographic Health survey 2016. These findings compelled me to read more widely about gender and gender related issues.
In the ACFODE boardroom is a mural which I got really interested in. I was able to think hard; by looking at it I could see various gender issues like male dominance, domestic violence, polygamy, a woman’s daily work load, how men and women are closed up by the gender roles, and patriarchy among others.
During the LFC training, time for a breather
On the other side of the mural, I discovered a different kind of life:that women had begun participating in politics, men taking part in the nurturing of children, equal income and education between men and women. This side of the painting certainly depicted the evolution of gender and gender roles from the past to the present and reaffirmed the need for a bigger and bolder step for society to embrace a learning and flexible attitude towards gender roles and placement of women and men in our communities. In the mural one could tell the shift in gender roles.
“ACFODE’s work is concerned with; promoting women’s participation in politics and leadership, women’s economic empowerment, advocating for women’s rights, championing campaigns against domestic violence and many more,” said Ms. Hugo Vanessa, the EIRENE Technical Advisor under the department of Gender & Economic Policy during her briefing to us.
As part of her professional development and capacity building, ACFODE usually holdsin house trainingsand I am glad to have been part of Leadership training, facilitated by Ms. Sandra Nassali- the Public Relations and CommunicationsSpecialist and Ms. Rebecca Rukundo, the Programs Assistant Gender & Economic Policy Department. The training was engaging and helped toraise my confidence given the participatory methods that were used. Among them were; group presentations and storytelling activities. I was able to stand out by volunteering to present on behalf of my group, somethingI look back to with a pat of pride.
While that was fun, the afternoon came session came with even more cream. As the adage goes, save the best for the last, how would I know that there are over eight views of leadership and more! Well, the training saved me from ignorance, I discovered much more than I expected and even realized that I too possessed some leadership skills and could use them to influence opinion and impact on my society. The training left a new and reformed me and I look forward to exhibiting this leader in me.
So should I add more? I guess you want some more but, well, sometimes a little of something is just the best. My advice to students is: “If you are to learn, Learn from the best.”
Bridget Claura Aguti
Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST)
Gender & Economic Policy Department