The Obama Foundation Leaders Convening is a program for Leaders from different parts of the world that work tirelessly to make a difference in their communities and countries in general. The program connects and brings together leaders of community-based organizations advocating for and empowering Girls to realize their full potential. The Girls Opportunity Alliance is the program of Obama Foundation that supports, connects and amplifies community based organizations empowering adolescent girls around the world and they brought us together in Athens, Greece from 19th – 22nd June 2023 to connect, Learn and share experiences and best practices from the work we do in our home countries. I heard about the event through a recommendation that was made by Girls Not Brides and Girls First Fund. This was so humbling knowing that My name came up due to the work we do at Raising Teenagers Uganda where we advocate for the right to education for every girl and support underprivileged girls to stay in school and complete their education.
The convening was designed to connect with other members of Girls Opportunity Alliance to share, learn, unlearn and relearn on this Journey of inspiring girls and creating opportunities for adolescent girls so that they can realize their dreams in life. The Network members gathered in person to share experiences and network with one another to strengthen and support the important work we are doing to empower girls in our respective communities.
The agenda of the convening included topics such as story-telling for Change which was extremely significant for me because for the first time I shared to true story behind the kind of work that I do for adolescent girls in Uganda. I also got the opportunity to listen to the stories of other Leaders in the Room and I realised that indeed Why Stories Matter. I also realised that we actually have many different stories that explain why we do what we do.
We also had a powerful session on digital fundraising which was equality informative and educative especially on how one can use different social media platforms to fundraise and get support for different activities. we learnt on how to launch a successful digital fundraising campaign and how to ensure that it reaches a wider and new audience that could be interested in supporting our Cause.
We had a session on Mindful Leadership by Maya Soetoro and this brought out the major importance of Peace and Resilience in Leadership. Her way of facilitation was so peaceful and I actually realised that everyone has their own definition of Peace it’s all acceptable.
We also learnt about strategic litigation and the importance of collective mobilization. A session that was facilitated by Clooney Foundation for Justice. This session gave us a better understanding of advocacy in different countries, particularly on advocating for laws and policies affecting women and girls and the fact that one doesn’t have to be a practicing Lawyer to know about the Laws that protect children and young people in general. I realised the power that comes with community mobilisation and having the local people demand for their rights.
We had a Cultural evening where we met and connected with different Funders and Supporters of the Network. This presented an opportunity to connect, share and network meaningfully which has helped multiply my networks as I continue to champion the campaign to End Child Marriage in Uganda.
Meeting President Obama was the Highlight of it all. It was the most humbling experience and memory that I will carry with me for such a long time. Having a roundtable discussion with President and him inspiring us to celebrate the little progress we are making was very empowering for me. Many times, we focus on what we have not done and undermine the progress we have made which is not Fair. He encouraged us to celebrate the little wins we make in life and that has really made a big influence on me since then and going forward.
He also called upon Men and Boys to be at the forefront of advocating for Gender Equality.
I have shared the learnings with the staff at our organisation and will share with the members of Girls Not Brides Uganda during the Annual General Meeting that will be held next Month.