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Transforming Community Through Digital Advocacy

Mudondo Winnie

By Frank Byaruhanga

In Oct 2022, Winnie Mudondo, a 22-year-old, law student at Islamic University in Uganda and a group (under Activista network) of other young people organized a successful community outreach and radio show on teenage pregnancy, child marriage and drug abuse policies in Kibuku District.

Winnie Mudondo leads a group of young women in Kibuku district to fight against stereotypes. She was inspired to start this group to address the gender norms in her society. Winnie’s initiative has inspired more women to become activists for the rights of women and against all forms of discrimination and violence against women.

 Mudondo says that According to a new report, which was conducted by Kibuku District Health Department, teenage pregnancy in the district at 37%, a figure higher than the national average of 25%. The research was conducted in all sub-counties of the district. She saw the opportunity to organize and mobilize young women and communities through outreaches and talk shows.

She has been able to reach 400 students and community members on sexual reproductive and health rights through focused group discussions and over 245,000 people through radio talk shows on drugs abuse, sexuality education framework, Gender Based Violence Acts, and policies. 

Following a training by ActionAid on advocacy and digital media, Winnie was inspired to use her newfound knowledge and skills to bring change to her community. First, she organized a successful community outreach and radio talk show that focused on teenage pregnancy, child marriage and drug abuse policies in Kibuku district. 

Speaking about the impact of the training, she notes, “after my encounter with ActionAid during the Digital and Policy Advocacy Training, I have now graduated from naivety, ignorance, selfishness and being shy to a confident, selfless, exposed, knowledgeable and an unapologetic activist.”

Indeed, Winnie has witnessed the impact of digital advocacy outreaches in the community. 

‘’During one of our digital advocacy outreaches in schools in my district, Esther, (not her real Name) a senior one student at Nabiswa Secondary School, l broke down and cried when we were educating them about adolescence and teenage pregnancy. She said she was contemplating giving up on school because her fellow students were making fun of her because of her big sized breasts and outstanding height,” explains Winnie. 

Coupled with the bullying in school Esther faced pressure also at home. Winnie reached out to Esther’s parents and teachers about the issue so that she could continue her education.  She further says that girls dropping out of school is rampant because of the embarrassment that girls in rural areas face during their menstrual hygiene challenges. Winnie, and her group are working to change the narrative.

‘’I'm glad to report that Esther has now graduated to senior two in the same school and the young generation there has appreciated the aspect of body changes and growth as a stage in development, “explains Winnie.

In her campaign against the social injustices, Mudondo was again invited on Pallisa FM radio to discuss about the injustices women face in the community and what can be done to change the narrative. ‘’I am delighted to report that depending on the interactions I had with the listeners, many young people and parents’ ears were opened to the causes, dangers, and effects of teenage pregnancy. This has built a spirit of abstaining from sex until marriage, and some parents committed to keep girls in school, ’Mudondo said. 

The training opened Winnie’s eyes to the importance of advocacy in communities. “There are so many issues young girls go through. But there are several   platforms for them to engage with and opportunities to create others, explains Mudondo. 

‘’I believe if we had not carried out the Actionaid digital advocacy outreach about teenage pregnancy, Esther (name withheld) would be a senior one dropout or even a mother at her tender age of 15 years,” says Mudondo.

According to Winnie, ‘’We can make this world a better place for everyone despite their ages, status, race, tribe, culture, or physical attributes if we all did the right thing.’’