By Harriet Kamashanyu on March 16, 2020

This Women’s Month — let us embrace women’s economic empowerment!

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Despite historic legacies of political upheavals and violent conflicts, Uganda has enjoyed relative peace and stability since 2006, with the reinstatement of multi-party democracy, a strong constitution that protects women’s human rights, and an end to conflict in Northern Uganda. While Uganda has experiences sustained economic growth of 7% per annum and poverty had reduced significantly over the last twenty years, this growth has not been inclusive as Uganda still faces gender inequalities and regional disparities and marginalization.

The Government of Uganda has made significant progress in developing legal frameworks, policies and programmes to protect women’s human rights and advance gender equality. For instance, the Uganda Constitution prohibits laws, customs or traditions that are against the dignity, welfare and interest of women. The Constitution protects an affirmative action policy that has enabled major progress in women’s representation in government, with women holding over a third of senior ministerial positions.

Despite these commendable efforts, women in Uganda still face discrimination and marginalization due to slow change in attitudes about women in Ugandan society and the culture and practices of public institutions. Also, several key legal reform efforts have been pending for decades in relation to family laws and those relating to sexual offences against women and children. There are deep-rooted cultural and traditional practices that discriminate against women and girls and customary practices in many parts of Uganda that discriminate in cases of succession and inheritance that limit women’s access to land, finances and property. This all worsens the economic situation of women in my dear mother-land.

Women in Africa, including Uganda, are an economically disadvantaged group. The lack of economic power of these communities, especially among young women, is a major obstacle to long-term development in Uganda.

If we want to alleviate poverty, we have to address the exploitation of women. We have to give them an alternative way to live. To tackle this issue I decided to found Rhythm of Life, an organization that provides economic opportunities to women in the red-light districts to break the vicious cycle of mother-to-daughter prostitution in Uganda.

Rhythm of Life provides economic opportunities through hands-on training in hair dressing and cosmetology, bakery and confectionery to enable women to be employable in the immediate future. We also help them start up small scale businesses to sustain themselves and their respective families for more long-term development. We have so far been able to impact on over 1350 beneficiaries and this change is not stopping any time soon.

Like Kofi Anan said, there is no tool for development and economic equality more effective than the empowerment of women.

Women’s empowerment isn’t just a catchy slogan, it’s a key factor in the social and economic success of nations. When women succeed, everyone benefits.

We strongly believe that women are a full circle. With the power to create, nurture and transform. Economic freedom is very important for women empowerment.

What's your perspective?

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