Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Grace Nanyonga, a former beneficiary of FAWE’s bursary programme in Uganda, was invited to represent FAWE at the ‘Women, Africa, Human Development’ event hosted by the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee Joint Programmatic Commission (JPC) on Human Rights in Paris, France, on 2 February 2011.
The event brought together around 300 young people aged between 15 and 25 years to share experiences and discuss themes related to women, human development, poverty eradication and education in Africa.
Ms Nanyonga presented a short video produced by FAWE about her story and followed this with a question-and-answer session in line with the aim of the event – to combat ignorance and prejudice, promote education and dialogue, and raise awareness on the inequalities faced by African women and girls with regard to fundamental human rights, poverty and life chances. Her story was also presented as a means of highlighting how women in Africa strive to achieve a better quality of life for themselves and their children.
Ms Nanyonga is a successful young entrepreneur, community empowerment volunteer and mentor of young girls in her native Uganda. Orphaned at an early age along with her six siblings, Ms Nanyonga would sell roast chicken after school while her brother made bricks for sale in order to support the family of seven. Although her school mates made fun of her, this activity enabled Ms Nanyonga to complete primary school and begin secondary school.
Through the financial support of FAWE Uganda, Ms Nanyonga was able to enrol in a good secondary school which gave her better life chances and go on to university. FAWE Uganda also gave Ms Nanyonga the opportunity to learn the skill of smoking fish for sale which helped her earn additional income through her university years. Producing smoked fish has now become Ms Nanyonga’s core business. It has earned her the attention of the President and First Lady of Uganda and taken her as far as the United States to train with a major US retail chain in the production, packaging, quality assurance and marketing of fish.
Today, Ms Nanyonga works to empower women in her native village to gain skills that can help them support themselves and their children and ensure a good education and healthy lives for their children.
The main objective of the event was to raise awareness among young people on their rights as individuals and the rights of others, and to encourage them to become actively involved in the promotion of human rights at an early age.
Focusing on the role of education in promoting human rights and on culture in helping individuals know and understand each other, the young people’s forum shared a variety of human stories that demonstrated to participants the necessity of knowing others in order to understand them, understanding others in order to accept them, and accepting others in order to respect their rights.
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