In 2013, one of the male role models, Moses Odongo, conducted a sensitisation meeting in Idep Catholic church. During the meeting Odongo talked about the different negative socio-cultural practices that discriminate against women. He mentioned that such practices include forceful wife inheritance, wife beating, forceful and early marriage, denial to women the right to own customary land and selling farm produce without the consent of women. The women of Idep testified that such practices were real and that women were experiencing them on a daily basis. The women, therefore, got the inspiration to form an advocacy group against negative socio-cultural practices. They named the group Idep Women’s Group.
The chairperson of Idep Women’s Group, Grace Ebong, shared how they formed themselves into a group to advocate positive socio-cultural practices.
‘Since most of us were victims of negative socio-cultural practices,’ Grace narrated, ‘we decided to form an advocacy group as women of Idep Catholic church. As a group we began staging drama shows in churches and trading centres to sensitisecommunities against negative socio-cultural practices that discriminate against women. The community response towards the drama shows was very positive since for each drama show an average of 300 people would turn up. Apart from staging drama shows every Sunday, we conducted home visits and counselling to households affected by domestic violence.
‘On realising that the efforts of Idep Women’s Group were yielding results, our husbands became so supportive, to the extent that some offered their bicycles to be used by their wives as transport to enable them to reach the drama venue. Eventually, most of the men who are husbands to women in the group joined the drama group and have become extremely active in championing gender-responsive socio-cultural practices through drama shows. Members of the drama group have also taken up leadership positions in the community. For instance Lillian Ogweng, one of the members, was elected chairperson of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of Idep Primary School, and four other women have also been elected clan leaders in their respective communities. These women have used their positions to cause positive change in their communities. Through community engagement, the group has learnt that poverty is the major cause of violence against women. Therefore, the group members have started up a village savings and loans association scheme. Every Sunday each member is supposed to save a minimum of 2,000 and a maximum of 10,000 Ugandan shillings. The group also is involved in tablecloth making for sale and has formed a group digging association whereby they dig people’s gardens and are paid, to improve their livelihood. These economic initiatives have greatly enhanced the economic status of the group members. Today most of the group members are using their money to pay school fees for their children, buy furniture for their homes, and pay for their medication. In addition, six group members have also bought oxen and ox-ploughs to enable them to cultivate large portion of land for commercial purposes.’