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Empowered and Unstoppable

May 23rd, 2022

As she grew up as a young girl, Fancy struggled to fit into an immensely patriarchal society. Female voices were never heard in her community in Gulu, Uganda. Freeing herself from the impeding stereotypes that constantly reminded her that she didn't matter, was tough. At some point, she slowly started believing the false narratives. Fortunately, Fancy joined She Leads while pursuing her university education, where she was empowered and completely transformed her mindset towards girls and young women (GYW) stereotypes.

Growing up

Fancy was born and raised in a polygamous family. In 2019, a time when Fancy was to begin her university education, her biological father disowned her and neglected his responsibility as a provider. His argument was that university education was too expensive to waste on a girl. His negligence forced Fancy´s mother to take up the duties and provide for the family with her daily income of approximately €7.93, which she earned from selling peanuts in Kampala, Uganda. As time went by, the situation became overwhelming for her mother and they had no choice but to move to their maternal home in Kampala. As her mother continued to worry about the pressing need of her daughter's school fees, Fancy received good news that she had qualified for a scholarship from Girl Up Initiative Uganda —which supports academically excellent disadvantaged girls actively engaging in institutional programs.

A space deprived of female voices

Ever since her father abandoned her, Fancy felt unworthy. She questioned her potential as a young ambitious woman. She wanted to give her mother hope and assure her that their future was bright, so she did not share her feelings with her. Fancy’s community has no space to accommodate female voices. As she grew up, she had a relentless urge to disrupt the limiting social norms and stereotypes that denied girls and young women a chance to speak up and take part: but she was unable to figure out how to address these issues. “I was simply aware that women can also lead but not aware of why, when, or what happens when women are fully involved in leadership and decision making processes. My attitude towards women’s involvement was still stereotypical,” she said.

Founding the She Laws Community

While pursuing her law degree in a Moslem founded university, Fancy couldn't help but notice the stereotypes around female students, especially those that studied law. Her desire to change the false narratives grew stronger until, towards the end of July 2021, when she formed the, ´She Laws Community´ movement —a mentorship association of female students of law in Uganda that aims at enabling female students of law manoeuvre law school. Its purpose is to create a stronger sisterhood in law school in Uganda. Some of the thematic areas that the movement seeks to address include; building one’s self, understanding and changing the negative stereotypes and beliefs around being a female lawyer, legal practice, lawyers in entrepreneurship and the art of reclaiming spaces as young female lawyers in societies. Step by step, Fancy is creating opportunities for women. Currently, the movement has attracted female law students from eight universities, encouraging and supporting each other.

Becoming a She Leads advocate

As a She Leads advocate, Fancy has been exposed to various platforms as a representative of girls and young women (GYW). She was selected to give a keynote address during the grand launch of the She Leads Programme on behalf of other girls and young women. She boldly took up the challenge and delivered well. Additionally, she was one of the panellists, representing She Leads, at a high end political forum on SDGs organised by Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE). She also shared her thoughts and expectations of the She Leads Programme on UBC television. In a national youth dialogue, Fancy represented GYW at a panel discussion organised by National Youth Council in partnership with Plan International. Her latest remarkable participation, where she had voices of GYW amplified, was during the African Union´s summit that was organised by GIMAC in Ethiopia.

Receiving support and mentorship

Fancy has experienced tremendous growth since she was identified by She Leads. She is still a beneficiary of the project and is currently receiving support and mentorship. She is taking the lead in monitoring and supervising the two safe spaces in Kawempe and Ntinda. In her daily routine, Fancy strikes balance between home care, advocacy work and running her movement. Her Fridays are exclusively dedicated to safe spaces and her human rights training. Her progress is commendable. She has made a laudable leap forward —from being a young girl who allowed the stereotypes ascribed to her, to unapologetically taking up leadership roles and disrupting false ascription of women. “I envision a world where every girl and young woman can receive equal and quality education. A world where we can openly call out negative social norms that limit our meaningful participation in the processes of decision making at whichever level,” she said in a voice of hope and determination. 

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