Engaging men as actors in advancing women’s rights is an approach that ACFODE has embraced over the years. In a mentoring and coaching session for women in politics that took place in Apac district on 22nd and 23rd February 2017, men were brought on board to participate and get empowered to address women’s issues.
According to the participants who attended the mentoring session, a poor woman in Apac is depicted as miserable, poorly dressed, looks hungry and ugly and lacking confidence. As such the mentoring session was tailored to include discussions on the five issues in the women’s manifesto that needed to be addressed in order to change the ‘picture’ of a rural poor woman. The issues include; women’s health – a nation’s wealth, women’s land and property rights, women and education, women’s economic empowerment and, women in politics and decision making.
83% of women in Uganda are engaged in agriculture yet only 25% of them control the land they cultivate. With these statistics, women can only achieve ‘so much’ if the five key issues in the women’s manifesto are not addressed. Ms. Gladys Nairuba, a facilitator from Danish Church Aid.
The northern and Eastern parts of Uganda are ranked highest in Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevalence. The number of girls who reach Primary six and Primary seven is far less than that of girls who enroll in Primary one, said one of the participants during the event.
Discussions revealed that some communities in Apac still believe in gender stereotypes such as; a woman should be in the kitchen, should look after children and domestic animals. There is still high level of women’s rights violations for example denial of decision making rights and ownership/inheritance of property. The leaders therefore emphasized that a lot of work still needs to be done by political leaders, duty bearers and social actors as far as sensitizing masses on negative cultural practices, power imbalance and misuse and enforcement of laws and policies that protect women’s rights are concerned.
As a way of strengthening their capacity, the leaders were trained on public speaking and communication skills, gender mainstreaming at all levels, and gender responsive budgeting. The two days activity was a success and appreciated by the leaders since it acted as an eye opener for them as a women’s caucus to renew their commitments and profile their work towards advancing women’s rights.
The leaders called upon ACFODE to continuously carry out mentoring and follow up activities and plan for a separate training for women on engaging with media and use of modern technology.
Compiled by Rukundo Rebecca
Gender & Economic Policy Deparment