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A Dedicated Male Champion Advocating for Girls' Rights in Eastern Uganda

October 16th, 2023

In the heart of Kigulu village in Eastern Uganda, Abudu embarked on a journey of becoming a champion for girls' rights. After witnessing the challenges faced by girls and young women in his community, he wholeheartedly joined She Leads, driven by the vision to transform his community and create an equal world. He works closely with girls and young women advocates, religious leaders, and community members to address pressing issues such as child marriage.

Abudu attending the She Leads meeting

Early Life

Abudu, 24 years old, lives with his mother and father in Kigulu village, Uganda. From primary one to primary six, he attended Kigulu Primary School before transferring to Mugulu Primary School in Butaleja district in 2013 for his Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE). However, as life would have it, his education hit a roadblock when he enrolled in senior one and two at Cranes High School in Bugiri District for the academic year 2014-2015. Financial difficulties within the family led to irregular school attendance, resulting in Abudu missing school for a whole year. 

His aunt welcomed him into her home in Nampologoma village. She supported Abudu to re-enroll in school for S3 and S4 at St. Mary's Secondary School in Kapisa Village. Sadly, she could no longer support Abudu´s education and he had to end his studies in senior four.

Witnessing Gender Inequality

After returning to Kigulu village, Abudu lived to witness the challenges faced by girls and young women in his community. The girls were often regarded as a source of wealth through forced marriages. Stripped of their right to education, they were left home to do domestic work while the boys went to school. Gender norms were deeply entrenched, even reflected in the names assigned to children: girls were called "Sukaali" (Sugar), and boys were "Munyo" (Salt). School dropout was very common among school girls, who were not considered at home and they could not even make decisions in relation to their rights.  

“I could do nothing since I had no power and authority to talk to their parents and I was also ignorant about their rights,” Abudu explained.

Joining She Leads

Abudu, who worked as a Village Health Team (VHT) member for a non-profit organisation, engaged with the Community Development Officer who informed him that the Multi Community Based Development Initiative(MUCOBADI), through the She Leads program Specialist, had reached out to him to map out male champions to work under She Leads. Upon learning more about the programme, Abudu eagerly embraced the opportunity. He believed that he would be in a position to participate in the transformation of the negative gender norms faced in his community.

In 2021, Abudu joined the She Leads programme, embarking on a transformative journey. He learned how to communicate effectively, and honed his confidence and interpersonal skills. These newfound skills enabled him to connect with stakeholders and community members, all while engaging in advocacy work. He also mastered the art of using music and drama to engage members during community engagement meetings.

He recalled, “I felt pleased when I heard the good news of protection of the rights of girls. I would see a changed community since I would help reduce gender norms, child marriage and teenage pregnancy through community sensitization in the community.”


In June 2021, Abudu underwent training on advocacy, lobbying, and negotiation skills, delving into topics such as girls' rights, gender equality, gender norms, gender concepts, and the factors perpetuating gender inequality and discrimination. He also learned about child safeguarding and the legal and policy frameworks surrounding gender equality and girls' rights.

Journey as a Male Champion

As a male champion, Abudu built close relationships with She Leads Girls and Young Women advocates, forging alliances with religious and community leaders. Together, they conducted community engagement meetings aimed at tackling the challenges faced by girls and young women in their community.

Their initiatives included sensitizing girls and young women about their rights and responsibilities, conducting community debates on issues like child marriage, and holding meetings to engage stakeholders in addressing pressing issues such as late-night markets that endangered girls' safety. Their efforts bore fruit as a bylaw on child protection was enacted in Iwemba sub county. Child marriage has now been reduced due to the awareness of the community members that girls can also change the world if given a chance. Girls also stopped going to markets at late times.

Abudu even had the privilege of participating in the Iwemba sub-county council meeting in June 2022, where he contributed to the development of the child protection bylaw. In addition to community engagement, Abudu counselled girls who had dropped out of school, encouraging them to focus on their studies for a better future. 

Reflecting on his journey, Abudu emphasised, “Before She Leads, I was not able to share girl’s rights since I was ignorant. Parents viewed their girls as a source of income at a tender age but now they learnt that it is bad to do so. Hence girls are given the opportunity to join meetings/ participate in decision-making. My family members are proud of seeing their son fight for the rights of children.”

A Vision for an Equal World

Abudu’s dream as a male champion is to create an equal world where all children can thrive, irrespective of their gender. “I advise girls to look beyond the present and focus on their future. I also encourage parents and stakeholders not to deal with corruption, obstructing GYW rights in the community. They should eliminate the abuse of children’s rights in the communities and countrywide. Parents should not believe in the negative social gender norms and they should treat all children equally,” he concluded.

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