Empowerment means different things to different people. However, in basic terms, empowerment is the process of gaining freedom and power to do what you want or to control what happens to you. The process also requires that one is accountable for how they use this freedom and take full responsibility of decisions made.
So who is an empowered woman? What are her attributes and what does she stand for? These were the questions addressed by Ms Sandra Nassali, ACFODE’s technical advisor for the public relations and communications department, while at Gayaza High School to commemorate the international women’s day in March, 2018. In audience were senior class students of class five and six.
Ms Sandra Nassali, speaking to the girls during the mentorship session
The session, organized by Gayaza High school, started with a prayer and opening remarks from Ms Julie Tracy, the patron of the youth empowerment club at the school. She recognized ACFODE’s work with women and girls around the country citing for the girls the different project interventions ACFODE had undertaken including eradication of Violence against women and girls in her project intervention districts as well as advocacy for women and girls’ rights.
A student making her contribution during the session
Ms Sandra Nassali girls delivered on traits of an empowered woman and / or girl which though many, were not limited to; knowing one’s worth and not settling for less in life, setting goals, empowering others, self-care, accountability, fear of the lord as well as continuous learning.“Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is,” she said.
Ms Sandra pointed out to the girls that knowledge was key in the journey of empowerment for it informs one of the things they don’t know and enables one to discover new angles of maneuvering and solving problems. In so doing, one is capacitated to make informed and weighted decisions.“Secondly,” added Ms Nassali, “an empowered woman or girl doesn’t pull down and / or undermine others, especially fellow women and girls but rather empowers them!”
Additionally, achieving success necessitated that one sets goals which she remains courageously committed to.“I am certain you dont love every subject you study. You don’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures,” explained Ms Nassali.
Another student making inquiries on the topic.
“JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, ‘I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’ ”
“These people succeeded because they understood that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time,” she added. She cautioned the girls against wrong decision making citing that every action taken in one’s life has consequences. She added that bad company corrupts good character.
“An empowered woman’s biggest asset is not a pretty smile, her cooking skills, the ring on her finger, her wardrobe or how many likes she has on social media. An empowered woman’s best asset is her mind,” she added.
Lastly, the girls were dared to be different hence forth and to pick from the resilience of the women in the women’s movement , who did not quit when things got tough but instead kept going , tried harder, loved themselves and gave their best.