As we celebrate women’s day this year under theme “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. We are reminded of the Journey we have walked and the innovative programming to help improve the woman’s status and life in society. In the fight to eradicate poverty, we come across many trajectories that women have gone through to fight for their place in society today.
1. A paradigm shift to the majority of the women taking on the responsibility of the sole bread winner due to poverty, neglect and in some cases death of a husband, forcing them to raise their families singlehandedly.
2. Negative cultural practices that deny women access to basic human rights like education, income, health care among others.
3. Societal attitudes that believe and encourage the dominance of men over women. For example, in employment, leadership roles ,political roles, economic status and ownership of property.
As Stromme Foundation we believe that this can no longer work if we are to see sustainable development.
The United Nations Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) Goal 3: “Achieve gender equality & empower women and girls”. Indicates that Gender equality is a driver for development and stability. “Gender” is not the same as “women”. It is about women and men and the tasks, functions, roles attributed to/or played by each in public and private life. Gender equality matters intrinsically as a basic human right and is instrumental for human development. It enables equal access to goods, services, and resources for both men and women, and their equal enjoyment opportunities and rewards of economic development. Gender equality is “smart economics,” and can contribute to key development goals, including the reduction of extreme poverty and inequality (World Bank,2006). Reflecting on our recently concluded Strategic period of 2014 -2018, we are happy to see that our programs have mainstreamed gender issues to ensure that even the women’s rights are upheld.
Stromme Foundation’s programming focuses at providing especially the rural and urban poor with opportunities to improve their livelihoods through enhanced income generation. Our Community Managed Savings Groups bring together a group of 30 self-selected members with about 70% of women and 30% for men. They come together to save, acquire loans at reasonable rates and invest as a group or individuals. These groups provide platforms for discussion on community issues that affect them, collectively find solutions and take action. These groups have provided avenues for women to acquire skills in business management through business, selection, planning and management (BSPM) training. As a result, women have been economically empowered through investment in businesses leading to increased incomes, contribution to household incomes, decision making and improvement in self-esteem. This has earned them respect in the community and provided them with leadership opportunities.
The self-esteem of 73% of women in the supported communities was improved , while 91% participated in decision making both at household and community levels.
The Bonga adolescent girls’ empowerment program is designed to equip girls who have dropped out of school due to various reasons with basic literacy, numeracy, life and occupational skills. It has given many girls a chance to regain their dignity and self-esteem and be considered significant citizens in their communities. The girls are young adolescents that drop out or have never been to school for various reasons like being orphaned at a young age hence no one to further their dreams, negative cultural practices that deprive the girl child of her rights like early marriages, Female Genital Mutilation, War and Poverty. These leave the girl child illiterate, with low esteem and without opportunities.
We have seen 17,436 girls’ lives impacted socially and economically during our five-year strategic period 2014 – 2018.
As we roll out in the new strategic period, SFEA together with the implementing partners shall do the following to promote women’s rights:
* Increase space for sensitization about women’s rights in the Bonga Centers and using Community theatres by Bonga participants, in the savings groups, in the Community based Vocational skills training sessions and challenging gender norms which culturally, socially and politically discriminate against women
* Enhancing the woman’s voice in decision-making, leadership and peace-building at community and household level, advocating for strong representation by women on Bonga Support Teams, School Management committees and Savings groups committees and enacting guidelines for recruiting more female teachers in the teacher training Programme.
* Promoting women’s economic empowerment driving growth at household and community levels and generally investing in the women’s ability to be employed, for example in skills training and enhanced agricultural production where over 70% of the women are employed.
* Work towards ending violence against women and girls through Bonga community theatres, and other advocacy initiatives at different levels organizational (SF and Partner level), for example advocating protection of women and giving equal opportunities, having an officer in charge of Gender; in the communities with the duty bearers to ensure that women’s rights are upheld, e.g. participation in schools. Promote better fuel for cooking, energy saving (renewable energy use) to free up women’s time for production and better health.
* Support vulnerable girls and women to learn business and vocational skills (through Bonga and Savings groups where at least 75% will be women) as well as promote savings and credit groups deep in rural areas (75% women) and linking them to formal financial services where they can have more products and access more funds for investment and initiate Commercial Villages where bulk of women are engaged. The Commercial Villages concept enhances production and access to better markets.
* Promote family planning in the various interventions.
* Promote social protection for girls and women.
Click here on link below to read Joan Nabasa’s story of empowerment through our innovative programmes.