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Owembabazi Paget is a Lawyer, Certified servant leader and passionate Human Rights activist from Uganda.

“Being born and raised in a male dominated society where women were given little or no respect motivated me to advocate for women’s rights. I aspire to see a generation with economically and socially empowered women, well-educated and exercising their freedom of choice at home, in school and at work.”

When girls are not made to feel empowered from a young age they can grow up vulnerable to many problems, from gender inequality to gender-based and domestic violence.

Girls from all sorts of places and backgrounds, educated or not, grow up taught that the patriarchy is good for women.

We are often brought up believing that men should always take a lead role and our role as women is to stay at home and be a mother or wife. Although there is nothing wrong with being a mother or wife, we should be empowering girls to know that they have other options for their future other than running a household. If we do not encourage girls to put their happiness, goals and lives first, then the issues affecting women today will continue to the next generation.

If girls are taught to exploit their skills and utilise entrepreneurial opportunities and skills-based work, the future generation of women will be economically empowered and able to support themselves. With the ability to make enough of a living to look after themselves, women can choose their path and feel confident to leave difficult home situations such as an abusive relationship.

The patriarchal society discourages women, often making them feel less important and helpless to fight for their seat at decision making tables, but if girls were economically empowered to support themselves then they would also have the confidence to fight for their equal place.

Teaching girls they do not need to rely on men to be financially stable by giving them entrepreneurial skills and experience, will not only help them personally grow but give them the confidence to feel equal. Without addressing the current power dynamics in many relationships, the rights of women will continue to be violated and gender-based issues cannot improve.

This is a progressive approach so irrespective of the resources we have, let us take immediate action and empower every girl whenever we get the opportunity. Let us together eliminate discrimination, gender based inequalities, sexism by assuring girls that they have the capability and freedom to live a life in dignity, to take the lead and exploit all genuine opportunities so that they can sustain an independent living.

Let us dispel the myths that a girl’s biggest achievement is marriage and shift the focus from teaching them ways on how to please men and how to look good. Let girls know that they are a priority, that their happiness matters and that they have potential and capacity to lead. Teach them that their dreams are valid and that they shouldn’t allow anything to stop them from achieving them. Empowering girls to become self supporting will set a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth.

Today many girls are victims of sexism and they don’t even know it. From cultures of body shaming that force girls to think they need to change their appearances to conform, to giving in to sexual harassment because they want to keep their job.

People still believe that women are weaker than men. Every time I find myself having a conversation with such people, it hurts me but at the same time motivates me to stand up for girls.

Let us use every opportunity we get to teach girls and empower them to learn ways on how to become economically self supporting. Eventually, we hope that girls and women will be able to achieve their full potential. I hope to see all forms of gender based inequalities, discrimination and sexism eradicated from our communities. Girls and women will be given the opportunity to stand out and take the lead in all institutions knowing that their lives, voices and happiness matter.

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