In April last year, ACFODE under the Women’s Democracy Group (WDG) conducted a workshop for newly elected women leaders from the districts of Rakai, Sembabule and Kalangala. This was to encourage them to form caucuses in which they would have a united voice to lobby for women and girls’ concerns.
It was noted that the Rakai District caucus has taken commitment further and registered numerous achievements in improving the well being of women and girls in their constituencies. For the start, the caucus registered as a Community Based Organization-Women of Destiny Association (WODA)
Having felt that the DANIDA grant was only benefiting the rich without considering women as a sector, in October 2016, the caucus held a meeting with the district officials; Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Chairperson LCV, the Executive committee of women council V and the District Community Development Officer (DCDO).
The main aim was to lobby and advocate for women’s inclusion in the beneficiaries of the grant which was meant for vulnerable citizens in Rakai district.
As a result of this meeting, there was establishment of a district women’s SACCO whose income has now grown up to 10,600,000 million shillings in the two months of October and November 2016. This has been generated from members’ savings, shares and the 5million DANIDA grant.
Furthermore, during this meeting a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the caucus and the district whereby the district committed itself to support the caucus’ women economic empowerment initiative. This would be through contributing 5million shillings annually to facilitate small loan acquisition (100,000- 800,000/=) by the most vulnerable women. So far 20 women had benefited from this initiative with 1% interest.
In order to strengthen solidarity among members, the caucus resolved on starting to support each other whereby each member is supposed to contribute 200,000/= monthly towards a fellow member’s need take for instance through purchase of a cow, house construction (iron sheets) or any other Income Generating Activity (IGA). In total a supported member receives between 3 to 5million depending on her contribution towards her colleagues’ needs. The first member to benefit out this initiative was Hon Nakalyango Regina who had received 3.5m to boost her poultry project.
The caucus is also working with BAMA, a civil society organization to do awareness creation and training girls and mothers how to make reusable sanitary pads, talking to male and female teachers about issues affecting the girl child education and the importance of providing privacy for girls while at school.
Still in regard to women and girl’s reproductive health, the caucus was tasked to develop an ordinance on reproductive health issues to be presented to council for debate and approval for implementation whereby Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and mothers are discouraged from involving themselves in unsafe deliveries.
In order to fight for the economic empowerment of women, the caucus engaged members of the Women Council in understanding the utilization of the women fund (2,500,000/=). This money is given to the district every quarter in form of facilitation to women activities in the district.
The caucus also demanded an explanation from the members as to how the women entrepreneurs’ project fund is planned for and the intended procedures of accessing the grant.
Thereafter the meeting, members resolved to have a joint team of all women leaders at district level to mobilize and organize women into working groups to allow them access the fund, all beneficiaries of UWEP must go through the caucus for scrutiny before endorsement, to ensure that the project is beneficial.
To Women of Destiny, the sky is the limit; they acknowledge that while they have been able to register some achievements, there is still a lot to be done.
Speaking to the Vice Chairperson, Namusitwa Agnes, she emphasized that women caucuses must find a way to fund their activities, and starting saving groups and income generating activities.
“No Civil Society Organization (CSO) is going to come and fully fund your activities, besides it is your role as an elected leader to fight for the wellbeing of your people”. The caucus also attributes their success to working closely with CSOs. They are grateful to ACFODE who continue to support them with skills and knowledge to fulfill their mandate as elected leaders.
Human Rights and Governance Department