In April 2016, ACFODE under the Women’s Democracy Group conducted a workshop for the newly elected women leaders from the districts of Rakai, Sembabule and Kalangala. From this workshop, the women leaders formed caucuses in which they would have a united voice to lobby for women and girl’s concerns.
The Rakai district caucus took their commitment further and has registered numerous achievements in improving the wellbeing of women and girls in their constituencies. For the start the Rakai district caucus registered as a Community Based Organization-Women of Destiny.
In October 2016 the caucus held a meeting with the district officials (CAO, Chairperson LCV, CFO, the Executive committee of women council V and the DCDO) to lobbying and advocate for women’s inclusion in the beneficiaries of DANIDA grant which was meant for the vulnerable citizens in Rakai district. The women leaders felt that the grant was only benefiting the rich without considering women as a sector.
As a result of this meeting, there was the establishment of a district women’s SACCO whose income has now grown up to 10,600,000 million shillings in two months i.e. October and November. This has been generated from members’ savings, shares and the 5million DANIDA grant.
Still from this meeting an MoU was signed between the caucus and the district where the district committed itself to support the caucus’ women economic empowerment initiative by contributing 5million shillings annually to facilitate the small loan acquisition (100,000- 800,000/=) by the most vulnerable women. So far 20 women have benefited from this initiative with 1% interest.
In order to strengthen solidarity among members, the caucus decided to start supporting each other. Each member is supposed to contribute 200,000/= monthly towards a fellow member’s need i.e. purchase of a cow, house construction (iron sheets) or any other IGA (Income Generating Activity). 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 is Hon Nakalyango Regina who has 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 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 TBAs and mothers are implicated not to involve themselves in unsafe deliveries for both mothers and babies.
In a show of solidarity to fight for the economic empowerment of women, the caucus engaged the members of Women Council in order to better understand the utilization of the women fund of 2,500,000/= which is given to the district every quarter in form of a facilitation to women activities in the district.
The caucus also wanted an explanation from the same members as to how the women entrepreneurs project fund is planned for and the intended procedures of accessing the grant. As a result of 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. It was also resolved that all beneficiaries of UWEP must go through the caucus for scrutiny before endorsement, to ensure that the project is benefitting all.
For the 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 is one of the ways. “No 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 civil society organizations. The caucus is also grateful to ACFODE who continue to support them with skills and knowledge to fulfill their mandate as elected leaders.
Compiled by Kyomuhendo Belinda
Human Rights and Governance Department