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To address the issues of stubborn poverty and the challenges women face regarding access to and information on health, justice & human rights, gender based violence, economic empowerment, education and activism, Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) is launching the Gulu Women’s Resource Center (GWRC). GWRC is a one-stop center that will provide essential support, information and education to women and girls in northern Uganda.
The goal of this initiative is to create a community space providing women current and critical information, community meeting space, and computer and life skill trainings. It is through information and education that self esteem and empowerment is facilitated, enabling women to stand up and lead themselves out of the vicious cycle of poverty that is often presented before them.
Today we started to address this reality, training 15 young girls on how to produce affordable and safe sanitary pads for themselves and school going children, providing education and awareness creation real empowerment that benefit rural school going girls and women. Women and young girls are provided an opportunity to learn how to make, use and sell sanitary sanitary pads, creating employment opportunity while addressing menstrual health management challenge for rural women and schoolgirls. Its about dignity and equality, period.
While Haiti’s political system and institutions remain in a corruptive limbo, the people of Haiti continue to seek new and productive ways to survive in the informal sector. WGEF believes there is a unique opportunity to work directly in the Cap-Haiten community with community-based organizations.
Our first initiative is a Women’s Bakery Initiative (WBI); we are working with our partner SAO, and local women’s group RAFAVEL. During my time in the community, we held planning and strategy sessions, met with all stakeholders, conducted site visits, and held a business training session and group organizational meeting.
The training session hosted the 12 participants of the WBI, two leaders from RAFAVEL, SAO and WGEF. The training was lively with a wonderful discussion of ideas and strategies, including basic business concepts: product, promotion, price; customer service, logistics, management, profit and savings.
We also held snap elections to elect leadership of the group: President, Treasurer and Secretary. Several of the participants are not literate, leaving the younger members who have attended school to use their skill sets.
The commitment and energy level was inspiring reminding me of how important our work is, and how critical, albeit rare, opportunities are for women in Haiti. One of the leaders of RAFAVEL expressed her excitement stating “We won’t disappoint you, but don’t disappoint us.” This quote highlights the frustration many Haitians feel about the nonprofit/NGO world, which have exploited and failed Haiti. They have been promised and disappointed time and time again.
This project is a first for WGEF, as we are investing in the business and community, while providing a partial loan to be repaid, and personal investment by stakeholders, truly making this a ‘partnership in empowerment’.
We hope are inspired and are glad to be on this journey with you. Thank you for your support