On 7th October, 30 organizations came together at the Uganda National Museum for the Pre-international day of the girl child conference.  The event, organized by COGE (Coalition on Girl’s Empowerment) aimed to advance gender equality and economic empowerment of girls and young women prerequisite for sustainable development.
Amongst the various women’s groups in attendance, were Uganda  Youths and women’s Efforts to Fight Aids (UYWEFA), Agalyawamu GCN-VSLA women’s group from Gayaza. While schools included Lohana academy, Namugongo Parents primary school (GCN’s partner school).
Participants were treated to informative presentations on: Advancing gender Equality and economic empowerment of girls and young women as a prerequisite for sustainable development, Transformational and impactful leadership, Gender Based Violence and its impact on HIV, role of communities in girl child empowerment.  Recurring themes were the need to: Promote talent, Break cultural rigidity, Attend to rural girls as well as urban girls and Use of role models as an empowerment tool.
COGE made a près statement which was quickly followed by a most captivating presentation on Dyslexia amongst children plus special needs. Dyslexia, very often ignored, is a premise for abuse and violence against children by teachers and even parents because affected children are often regarded as dull slow learners and generally below average IQ.
Guest of honor, Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongoro discussed various avenues and pathways for girl and women empowerment. She emphasized their literacy level as a tool to enhance empowerment. She encouraged adult literacy classes that will enable women access loans easily.
Children too had thir share of the spotlight, with GCN’s partner school Namugongo Parents poem recital on the importance of a woman in the community. One of the members of our select Women’s Group Kwagala Iryne from Namwongo Zone B.(Mukisa Womens Group) who gave a testimony of  how the VSLA has changed her life.
I got to know about GCN in March 2015 when the Chairman LC 1 of the area called them for a meeting and told them about a group that wants to support them do better among whom was Justine. We were educated about VSLA and how it works. We scheduled days of which we could meet, drafted our constitution to govern the group and elected committee members.
In the committee, I am working as the secretary.
I saved for 1 month and then asked for a loan which helped me to improve on my capital. Right now, my business which was not doing well is now much better. I am able to buy food for my house, pay for my girl an education and am also able to pay back the loan.
Big thanks to GCN staffs and Director for changing my life. I encourage other women to join groups when they are approached

Next Steps

·      COGE coalition to start mobilization of funds early enough  to make better plans for next year’s conference.
·         Conference to be an annual event celebrated every 7th and 8th of October
·         Creating exposure and awareness to the public about Coalition activities is important in order to have more people attend the conference and events.
GCN Take aways:
·         More schools are interested in having clubs opened in their schools.
·         From the meeting, Lohana academy and UYWEFA showed interest
·         GCN to work more on the role model program since most girls get encouraged when they see and interact with people whom they want to emulate
·         Promoting girls talents at schools is also one of the activities that Girl Child network can improve on

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