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Brenda Abio, Miss Madi 2017/2018

In the Madi region where I come from, cultural beliefs including those that inhibit girls from going to school and force them into early marriages are prevalent. Apart from culture, the region faces the challenge of poverty which also contributes to high rates of child marriage and teenage pregnancy. As Miss Madi 2017/2018 I am using my position to create awareness and sensitize the youth, especially girls about the importance of getting an education and delaying child birth. 

I am the first ever Miss Madi to be crowned so starting this journey was not easy. Because it was the first beauty pageant in the Madi region it came with many negative stereotypes. It was hard to get acceptance of the communities and I faced a lot of criticism.  But I persisted. I said to myself ‘I’m going to show everyone that it’s my time and I’m going to shine no matter what you think’. 

I contested for Miss Madi because I wanted to be an inspiration for girls in my home area, to promote girl child education and prove to the girls that they can all fulfill their potential regardless of where they come from.

I have been privileged to connect with UNFPA. The Live Your Dream campaign especially “Let girls be girls” and “Books before babies” segments connected directly with my own goals. I have worked with UNFPA and its partners in Adjumani and Moyo to promote awareness on menstrual hygiene in schools and distribute hygiene kits to girls. I have also participated in the Live Your Dream Moment in Adjumani. In this kind of setting, we don’t use phones or social media much. It is platforms like these that I use to reach out to young people. 

Young people here think that you can only be successful if you are from Kampala.  I want to change that attitude. Interacting with young people has made me realize how much potential they have; they only needed inspiration and motivation to make their dreams come true. They are very intelligent young people with brilliant ideas but they lack inspiration, which I am here to provide.

I appreciate UNFPA because it started my journey into sexual and reproductive health, advocacy and inspiring youth, a journey that I am still on as Miss Madi.