- Country: Wakiso-Koona, Central, Uganda
- Works for: Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE)
- Role in #women2030: Implements projects in partnership with Women2030 trainers
- Related SDGs: SDG 5, SDG 1, SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG6, SDG 7, SDG 10, SDG 16
I am the team leader, the Executive Director, of ARUWE. Our organisation focus mainly on gender equality through four core issues: empowering and promoting women in leadership; economic empowerment and access to resources; environment and climate change adaptation (including access to green technologies for water and energy); women’s health by way of improved and accessible water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). We empower rural women and girls to participate in the development process of their society.
Implementing the SDGs from a gender perspective is not always so easy…
According to the Uganda Gender Policy (2007), gender equality should be an integral part of development processes. Yet, I’ve found that there is a knowledge and capacity gap on gender equality. Some of the government institutions like the district and sub county leaders we are working with have inadequate understanding of gender equality. Key decision-makers and planners do not understand the importance of gender responsive programmes. This means the planning for gender sensitive programmes cannot effectively happen and it has led to failure to allocate adequate resources to gender responsive programmes in these communities. It has also led to failure to have gender disaggregated information used in designing, implementing and evaluating programmes by other partners.
The lack of proper understanding of gender is also true to many of the community members whom we are working with and hence, community members have different perceptions about gender equality. Particularly, some men still have a belief that gender equality is intended to empower women to replace them and take on their roles, many men believe are meant for men, in the society and at home. So their attitude to appreciating and supporting gender equality initiatives in communities is usually negative. So, you find that, most of the leadership positions are dominated by men, of whom some do not appreciate gender equality and so advocating for a gender equality agenda is not always a simple process.
Further still, in some communities, some culture practices have continued to suppress women’ s self-esteem and confidence to participate on leadership positions and share their opinions on gender equality. Many women’s capacity to engage in gender equality agendas is limited because they are not confident.
Building community awareness to overcome those challenges!
ARUWE has continued to increase community awareness about the benefits of gender equality, emphasizing that it does not only imply benefits for women and society, but also for the economy as a whole. We empower women economically, for example by implementing programmes on sustainable agriculture, to enable them to contribute towards the economic growth of their families which is appreciated by most men.
In communities where men are the main obstacle to gender equality, we are working with the leaders to bring more men on board to support the gender equality agenda. When men become allies in supporting gender quality, gender equality become more achievable.
We are also building women and girls’ capacity to participate more in leadership and political spaces so that they can make decisions responsive to gender equality. We encourage women to voice out their gender concerns and we are building movements of women to enhance their voices and to fight gender-based violence.
Creating a difference in a girls or a woman’s life is such a rewarding experience for me. At ARUWE, we support girls to become more aware of their rights in order to change the status quo in their communities. For example, girls in Bussi Parents Primary’ school have improved their confidence and self-esteem at school because they can now manage their menstrual period due to the provision of the ECOSAN toilet. Before, girls would miss school during this period because the school lacked sanitation facilities. Ensuring the school provided a clean and safe toilet for menstrual hygiene management resulted in other outcomes for girls. Their confidence and self-esteem means that they can concentrate on their academic performance but also take on other challenges that are always occupied by boys. The school now records an increased number of girls performing well and participating in leadership roles.
Did you know that women2030 has a collection of exercises which you can use to build your community’s capacity on gender equality ?