A close up of a smiling woman and a man and a woman in the background. They are all in an office.
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British Council

This project is increasing the respect and recognition of women’s rights by working with women and various organisations across Uganda. It is also creating opportunities for women and strengthening their participation in social, economic and political life. 

This project is led by British Council in partnership with Action for Development (ACFODE) and with support from the European Union. The full project name is Action for strengthening Institutions and Communities in Promoting Women's Rights.

The two-year project is using innovative intervention methods with the various stakeholders. These methods include:

  • the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) training
  • social enterprise and leadership training.

These methods are introducing the stakeholders with the leadership skills required to assist in the promotion of women’s rights.The stakeholders include women councillors, social actors (religious leaders, cultural leaders, school teachers, and police officers) and civil society organisations. It will work across four districts in Northern Uganda and the West Nile regions (Apac, Pader, Nebbi and Oyam).

National and international law

Uganda is making significant development in eliminating discrimination against women and girls at all levels. It has seen the ratification and implementation of a number of national and international gender sensitive laws such as; the 1995 constitution, the Domestic Violence Act, the National gender policy, the Maputo Protocol, and CEDAW among others.

Women in Business

Belinda Ogwal, a widow and the chairperson of God’s Will Catering Services Group in Oyam Town Council was identified to represent women’s groups in Oyam Town Council at a social enterprise training organized by British Council and Action for Development (ACFODE) in March 2015.

While at the training, she was motivated by the women councilors and leaders who attended the training to begin a village savings group. When she returned, she joined hands with other women and started Kicking Poverty out of Oyam Women’s Group. The group has a total of 30 members, 2 men and 28 women. They meet on a weekly basis to collect money which they lend out to members at an interest rate of 10% that is paid after three months.

Currently, the group has savings of up to 2,400,000 Ugandan Shillings collected from members and it intends to open up a bank account. The group has plans of engaging in trading agricultural produce which has a steady market. One of the group members Connie Ogwang offered her store to be used by the group at no cost which saves them some money.

The group is lobbying for support in terms of ready markets for agricultural produce from Uganda Cooperative Alliance.

“In the past we had a lot of challenges with supporting our children in schools and providing basic necessities for our families, because most women depend on men’s financial support.   I am happy that majority of the women who attended the social enterprise training have started up small businesses to support their families,” said Belinda Ogwal.

 However, Low income levels of the members still affect the group’s savings. Competition from other vendors and insufficient skills in record keeping and financial management remain a big challenge to the group’s operations.

  

FROM 30,000 Shillings TO A MILLIONAIRE

After the death of her husband in 2010, Ms Alwoc Joy, 51 years old and her 7 children were left helpless.  Her late husband who was a business man at Kayei landing site was the bread winner of the home.

Barely a year after the death of her husband, another calamity struck. Thugs broke into her house and stole all the merchandise left behind by her husband. “I reported my case both at the local council and police, but the culprit was not got and I felt like the world had come to an end”. Alwoc explained in tears.

“Life became very difficult to the extent that I was unable to provide food for my family and to pay the school fees for my children and they dropped out of school”. 

At the beginning of 2014, Alwoc Joy joined a community women’s group known as Ket Ngwalo Itic that was involved in farming and group saving. Later on, British and Action for Development (ACFODE) identified their group in April 2014 to work with them under the Action for Strengthening Institutions and Communities in Promoting Women’s Rights project.

In an effort to raise women’s livelihoods, British Council and ACFODE trained 10 leaders of women’s groups in February 2015 on how to start up social enterprises and ket Ngwalo Itic was also represented at the training.

After the training, the group chairperson who attended the training Ms Irene Atim went back while equipped with skills and knowledge to start a social enterprise.

As a result she encouraged group members to start engaging in business activities. For those who lacked capital, she encouraged them to take loans from the group at an interest of 10% which was fair.

Just like other women, Alwoc Joy also took up the initiative and borrowed 30,000 Shillings. Through her creativity, she started frying fish and hawking it at the landing site every evening which earned her a lot of money amounting to 400,000/= in a period of one month.

Joy used her earnings as capital to start selling smoked fish in Lira Town where the prices were better and market was steady. Over the time, Joy built partnerships with hotel owners in Lira Town to whom she supplies fish.

“Through selling smoked fish, I have managed to save up to 1million shillings and raise a capital of 700,000 shillings.  Apart from that, I managed to take all my children back to school”.

 Today Joy Alwoc is a walking inspiration to fellow group members and other women in her community. She attributes her success to her positive response towards the group chairperson’s advice, confidence and persistence.

Female councilor leading the fight against gender based violence

Acan Molly is a female councillor of Pukor Parish in Ogom Sub County and this is her third term in office. She has been working very hard to perform her role as a councillor by being very close to her electorate and giving them feedback from the council. However, over the years, it has been difficult to ensure that gender based violence in her community is reduced. According to the statistics shared by Molly, Ogom Sub County has the highest crime rate in Pader district and gender based violence being the most reported.

She narrated how she once witnessed a defiler in 2011 being set free by the authorities. “One of the sub county officials defiled a 14year old girl and impregnated her. Through the leaders’ efforts, the defiler accepted to take full responsibility of the girl and the pregnancy. He paid two goats as a fine for his crime. I was happy that we managed to convince him to take responsibility of his action not knowing that defilement was punishable by law. Despite being in office for long, I had little knowledge about the constitution, defilement and human rights.”

In August 2014, Molly was invited to attend a three days training on Gender and Human Rights organised under British Council’s EU co-funded Promoting Women’s Rights project in Gulu district where she was trained on the elimination of all forms of violence against women.

Upon her return to Pukor Parish, she was engaged in community sensitization about gender based violence which was so rampant at that time. She took an extra step of giving out her phone number to community members to call her in case there were cases of gender based violence in their areas.

She started receiving phone calls even in the night and most times she would respond by going there to ascertain what had happened and take the appropriate action. She is thankful that her husband has been very supportive and sometimes, he would accompany her to the scene.

“As I talk now, I’m happy that through my efforts over five men have been arrested and prosecuted for gender based violence” smiles Molly.

She attributes the success of her campaign to the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) training that enlightened her about human rights. “Without this training, I would not have been able to play any role in seeing that gender based violence is dealt with in the community” notes Acan Molly.

 

She is very grateful to the police who have been acting swiftly whenever they had been called upon. Lastly she called upon the community to work together if they to eradicate gender based violence.

Students Learn How to Make Local Sanitary Towels

In October 2014, British Council Uganda in partnership with Action for Development through the EU co-funded Promoting Women’s Rights project, trained women councillors in Apac District Uganda on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. From the training, women realised how much women are discriminated in almost all spheres of life, most especially in the education sector.

“Realising that girls always performed poorly than the boys and they always dropped out of school whenever they reached upper primary, I decided to visit Te-Ogali Primary School and discussed with girls from Primary 5 to Primary 7 to identify why the situation was that way,” said Honourable Betty Opeto

Some of the raised reasons included; teachers using vulgar language while addressing girls, forced marriages, heavy domestic work load and they noted that the biggest hindrance is the menstruation cycle which they are not sure how to address.

Honourable Betty counselled the girls informing them that menstruation is normal and is experienced by every woman. She also informed them that menstruation is a sign that one is healthy and fertile, stressing that even the powerful ladies like Hon. Betty Amongi, Cecilia Ogwal have gone through similar circumstances but it did not stop them from studying or pursuing their dreams.

“I taught the girls how to make local pads using clothes. After explaining to them, I saw a sign of excitement and relief on the faces of these young adolescents,” Hon. Betty noted.

“After two months, I went back to the school and the ladies confessed that since they learnt how to make local pads, they no longer hide in the bush or miss classes during their menstrual cycles.”

"This initiative has reduced the rate of school dropout among girls and their concentration in class has tremendously improved. I attribute all this to British Council's training of women councillors" Says Honourable Betty Opeto.