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Voices for Change: ACFODE's Annual Debate Initiative Tackles Gender-Based Violence.

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In the heart of Uganda's Kyegegwa district, a beacon of hope shone brightly as ACFODE, in partnership with EIRENE eV International Christian Service for Peace, embarked on a transformative journey funded by The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development. The two-year project, My Right: No Violence," Prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) against girls and women in the refugee settlement of Kyaka II and its surrounding communities.

At the forefront of this initiative were ACFODE's Annual Debate Competitions, which served as a platform for fostering dialogue, exchanging ideas, and engaging in discussions about the pervasive effects of gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against children (VAC). Through these debates, the aim was to empower the voices of young girls and boys, equipping them with the knowledge and confidence to confront these pressing issues head-on.

The journey began with four capacity-building sessions meticulously designed to educate young minds; boys and girls on the various forms of GBV, its impacts, and prevention strategies. With participation from five primary schools, each session became a catalyst for change, igniting a passion for advocacy and activism within the hearts of 28 pupils(18 girls and 10 boys) from each school.

These sessions led to the formation of the GBV prevention clubs in these schools, students felt a strong bond, coming together to stop violence and make sure everyone is treated fairly. This all led up to the big annual debate contests. Students from both the refugee and local communities came together to talk about how to stop GBV and violence against children.

They shared ideas and ways to make things better.
Guided by the themes of children's rights and protection, prevention of violence against children, menstrual hygiene, and referral pathways, these debates served as a crucible for critical thinking, public speaking skills, and self-confidence. Through fervent discussions and spirited exchanges, students emerged as advocates and agents of change within their communities.

The impact of these debates extended far beyond the confines of the competition. As students returned to their schools armed with newfound knowledge and empowerment, they became catalysts for change, spreading awareness and championing the rights of their peers. With each debate, the seeds of transformation were sown, paving the way for a future free from the shackles of gender-based violence.
Creating a challenge within the District leadership to add annual debate competitions on the co-curricular activities on top of Music Dance Drama, and Sports Events to enable the children to boost their confidence even more initiative has been a milestone in the District and the Education officers.