Unlocking women's potential:what are the setbacks?
To me, poverty and ignorance among women are some of the main challenges that hinder realization of women’s rights and empowerment. World over, women are the poorest population and the situation is worse in developing countries like Uganda. Many women in rural areas totally depend on their husbands for survival and cannot make any choice or decision concerning their lives and this has a lot of implications. A woman will stay in an abuse relationship and If you ask her why she will say “If I leave him, how will I survive and who will look after my children".
For women and girls in fishing communities, the lack of money to engage in fish trade or any other economic activity places them at a disadvantage leaving them with sex as the only currency for survival. While women in post conflict situation who have lost almost everything, the level of trauma is very high and above all they are poor. This makes them very vulnerable to all sorts of abuse and violence.
That not withstanding, most of our societies or communities are patriarchal and this has created unequal power relations between men and women. Patriarchy accords too much power to men and systematically marginalize women. This patriarchy is also imbedded with in the invisible power of culture. Most of the cultural practices, beliefs, norms and attitudes in our communities perpetuate a lot of injustice to women and undermine their human rights. The most commonly practiced in the communities of Eastern and Northern Uganda is wife inheritance and this has fueled the spread of HIV and AIDS. For women who defy this practice, they loose all their property and are further stigmatized.
That aside, there is the challenge of poor and lack of information and communication infrastructure which makes it hard to mobilize communities especially women.
In order to overcome some of the challenges, grassroots women have been empowered through training to know and reclaim their rights as well as the rights of other women as shared in my previous articles. They have also been encouraged to engage in income generating activities such as group farming and sell the produce to earn some little income as well as us setting up some small business.
All these efforts and initiatives have been shared with the wider community online through blogging and because of this UN Women, social mobilization web platform Say NO - UNiTE to End Violence against Women got interested in the work of grassroots women and requested to partner with them and to share the experience and strategies on gender-based violence issues with a global audience
Likewise, pulse wire online community presents another opportunity for networking and sharing ideas and strategies with other grassroots women leaders from different corners of the world and engaging in collective action.