I knew I can do something; I knew I can have a say to change the unfair norm in my society. But how do I do this? What can I do to foster the change that is much needed was a challenge, with a deep fear of how will society judge me if I come out to speak about the silence killer of our children who were forced and married off at a tender age in exchange of animals or money?
I believed this issue can be sorted, but then also as a community, we need to have rules that protects our daughters! The only way forward for me was to join elective leadership so that I can be among the community representatives. This I achieved with support from WGEF program of mentorship and technical support that I received from Gulu Women Resource Center. Every Friday evening we sit to learn how to write position papers to be presented and learn more about public speaking. This surely boosted my self-esteem, I gained the popularity I needed, I then realized I can be a community leader now that I am already leading a group of over 1200 people, including men.
In my division with have engaged all stakeholders and we have succeeded passing a law that prohibits early child marriage. Now we are looking forward to implementing it, I believe this is a landmark achievement that many divisions will benchmark on.
WGEF supported me, and many other women contesting for office and won as the women councilor three. I head the women and children’s affairs committee. Now I can talk about some of the unhealthy cultural norms in my community and a lot is changing for justice and equity for all.
— Christine Aryemo, Gulu
Field report, February 2023
Linda is a 30-year-old mother of 4 living in Bungatira Village, Gulu District. Her family suffered from severe food insecurity in 2021, allowing the family only one meal a day. Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, rising fuel costs and inflation in East Africa, Linda’s business of selling food, grains and cooking oil collapsed.
It was so hard for me to understand why the price went so high in a short period. And my business collapsed I ununderstood latter that factors was due to conflicts between Russia and another country, I asked why other countries fight and we suffer? My family resorted to one meal a day. Thankfully WGEF came with a soft agro support loan of $370 that enabled me to prepare my garden, purchase seeds and inputs after 3 months the first harvested started my journey to recovery. I learnt that having enough food makes a family safe.
Now we eat 3 meals a day, I can buy food and have a balanced diet occasionally, and I have restocked again my shop with cereals rebuilding my business again and it’s growing slowly, I know it will take some time, but we are resilient now.
WGEF’s agro support program is critical in our region I have tested the benefits, it can save many families in the region
— Linda, WGEF member
Women’s Global Empowerment Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that creates innovative economic, social, and political opportunities for women and families in the post-conflict region of northern Uganda. Those opportunities include literacy training, a unique microenterprise model and agriculture initiative, accompanied by business and leadership development training, health initiatives, sexual violence education, social justice programming, and more. WGEF helps these communities transform by becoming their own advocates and creating their own solutions to move themselves forward.
Our agriculture initiative has enabled local food economies, increased food security and the health and well-being of families.
Women’s Global Empowerment Fund understands that for vulnerable communities and countries in the Global South, local food economies must be supported; a new Tilapia Farming Initiative is meeting the critical need for food diversity and nutrition thru important and local fish farming. Our Agriculture Program has created an entire local food economy by supporting women farmers, suppliers, and distributors, increasing food security locally and regionally during uncertain times.
Gulu Women’s Resource Centre (GWRC) focuses on women leading for peace and equality. Working from GWRC, the Access to Justice Teamhas received 711 cases, with an additional 128 referred by other community partners, including FIDA Uganda, Uganda Policy, Legal Aid, and coalition members to end domestic violence. Many of these cases relate to domestic violence, early or forced marriage, and land disputes.
Our Family Mediation Initiative prevented 368 girls from forced and early marriage; by working with families to find alternatives, and providing legal information, and solutions, hundreds of girls have the opportunity to live free from violence and coercion, staying safe and in school.