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2021 Annual Program Report

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Women’s Global Empowerment Fund Offers Women the Tools to Combat Poverty in One of the World’s Most Marginalized Regions

2021 Program Achievements

12,000+ new micro-loans and agricultural loans, enabling economic opportunities for women, creating stronger families and communities

4,000+ women facing domestic violence supported at Gulu Women’s Resource Center

89 girls prevented from early and forced marriage through Access to Justice family mediation

150,000+ sanitary pads distributed in 2021 so far, in addition to providing menstrual health education to 42,900+ girls and boys

21 women leaders successfully ran for political office at all levels to amplify women’s voices and take their place at the policy table

The mission of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund is to support women through economic, social, and political programs, creating opportunities while addressing inequality; strengthening families and communities.

The Only Way Forward Is Together!

As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hits Uganda and impacts everyday life, we thank you for your continued support and commitment to WGEF.

During this period of total lockdown, women and girls face increasing dangers and challenges to their health, safety and future. WGEF’s Access to Justice team is fielding a spike in cases of violence and exploitation, and overall we are seeing a dramatic increase in the volume of psychological support that is being sought. Normally, we provide these types of services through our peer counselors stationed at Gulu Women’s Resource Centre. Due to lockdown, we’ve been forced to offer tele-counseling only. On average, four counselors a week are receiving a caseload of 20 to 30 each; that’s over 100 people per week who urgently need our support and resources—an overwhelming number.

WGEF’s fieldwork largely depends on our local network of peer counselors and recently elected community leaders, who move within their villages teaching families about pandemic hygiene and prevention methods. Together with our Village Health Teams (VHTs), these WGEF leaders are on the front lines in communities that lack basic healthcare infrastructure, including PPE that would enable them to safely do their work, avoid infection, and slow transmission.

Periods don’t stop during the pandemic! WGEF has made a commitment to our Healthy Periods Initiative (HPI) to continue manufacturing and distributing sanitary products during the pandemic when many aid efforts are focusing on pandemic-related needs. Girls and women’s menstrual health needs should not be overlooked, and our HPI production unit in Gulu has been doubling its monthly production to 12,000 pads to meet the growing demand from girls whose access to pads came primarily from schools that are now closed. These young women are now home and at risk for sexual violence and exploitation.

Unfortunately, this week, our HPI production unit was forced to shut down when one of our team members contracted COVID-19. She is in stable condition and receiving treatment, and we provided testing  to the rest of the team to ensure the safety of all exposed. This means our production has halted for two weeks to allow disinfection and fumigation. It may seem a small blip. We assure you, it is not. Now more than ever, we cannot afford to ignore the reality that girls and women rely on our resources and support to stay safe, maintain dignity, and move freely through their lives. But we cannot do this alone!

We are aligning our programming with COVID-19 resurgence and recovery efforts by continuing to provide microloans to agro farmers, ensuring food security for families locked down in their homes; supporting victims of gender-based violence through our toll-free hotline and tele-counseling services; and doubling down on production and distribution of sanitary products in response to severe disruptions in the supply chain.

We’re grateful that we’ve been able to adapt to the continuing crisis, and we’ll continue to serve our communities as best we can. However, to ensure the safety of the community and our WGEF team, we urgently need your support.

Market Lockdowns Impact Food Security:

WGEF farmers in northern Uganda are facing huge threats with the re-emergence of COVID-19 due to lockdowns, transportation and marketing disruption, and increased infection rates, especially among marginal and women farmers. As businesses suffer financially, food security is also threatened by increased costs for parts and supplies, the unreliability of cross-border trade, and shortfalls in access.

Even the most successful Ugandan farmers are facing the possibility of losing their business due to circumstances beyond their control but WGEF is supporting them and keeping them connected. We need your help today so that we may reach more women farmers and entrepreneurs and continue to strengthen and build resilient local food markets that can weather difficult times.

Investing In women farmers, increasing food security for the region!

WGEF has invested in building the capacity of women farmers in Northern Uganda providing them access to financial, technical resources and advisory services to enable them tap into the many available and profitable opportunities in the agricultural value chain. We are proud of the outcomes; we have reached 2,122 women belonging to 98 groups. These women have been equipped with entrepreneurship and business management skills that form a foundation for building sustainable businesses. As a result, incomes of the women have increased by about 80% since the start of the program; savings have increased by 84.5% and women’s groups have been linked to market off-takers, agro-input dealers and financial institutions. The groups have also witnessed an increased positive attitude towards the women’s role in family and business. Local leadership relations have also improved and WGEF’s women farmers have adopted environmentally friendly farming practices.

Majority of women farmer’s supported by WGEF have shifted their attention from subsistence agriculture to agro business ;many now own large farms individually or in a group, creating employment, local and vibrant food economies, expanding markets into neighboring countries, and helping to reduce scarcity and hunger.

My transition in farming has brought hope and determination I used to grow food crops for subsistence mainly to feed my family and sell a few kilograms that would remain and that had kept me and my family in a cycle of poverty we were always lucking in every aspect of our life, when I started growing rice on large scale I became a serious business woman employing 16 people on my 23 acar farm these include men, I received WGEF agro loan and I used it to acquire a rice sorting machine so that I add value and maximize my profit. Now I have the capacity to produce 26,000kgs every season I’m determined to be the biggest supplier of rice in my area with in 3years.

— Akello

WGEF recognizes the crucial role played by women in agriculture in across East Africa. Our investment in empowering women farmers has transformative and sustainable impacts across the different levels of social and economic structures enhancing the lives of women, children and communities.

We believe the path to human dignity and well being runs thru systemic change, and social and economic justice.

21 Women Successfully Elected to Offices Across the Region!

Why We Run, February, 2021

I Knew That Something Needed to Be Done but How to Do It?

“I knew that our community Atyak Town Council, needed someone to speak for them, try and bring the change and influence that the marginalized groups especially women and the girl child are made to bear.”

Women and girls are still below the bar of equality in this Nothern region- Uganda, basically due to some unfair cultural norms that have to be changed as need arises. And this is reality for gender equality as a prior for equitable distribution of resources in our community.

“When I joined the leadership training over 2 years back and I enrolled in the literacy class where I learnt public speaking, and I built rapport which boosted my confidence in front of people. This made me succeed during the campaigns and I won my seat as women representative in Atyak Town Council” Says Apiyo

I will fight for the change women and girls need in the community, when the council sitting starts.

Apiyo
Atyak Town Council Member
WGEF Leadership Development Participant

WGEF’s response to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021

On January 6th, a violent insurrection aimed at stopping Joe Biden from becoming the next duly elected president shocked the world. America has a long and vibrant history of a peaceful transition of power, even during times of contention. It is this transition that keeps the American Experiment alive and moving forward. While the U.S. is not exceptional, it is the aspirational nature of our constitution and a majority of our citizenry to continue to create a more perfect and equal union.

WGEF condemns the violent event, the destruction, the death, and the surreal scenes that caused many to usher their children from the room; the chanting and costumes that blurred the line between reality and the impossible; and the utter desecration of America’s preeminent symbol of democracy.

On full display January 6th was the ultimate in white privilege, flaunted in an orchestrated, armed, white insurrection at the Capitol. The disparity with which white and black people are treated in similar (only in size and space) scenarios was in full view.

This disparity in police treatment of the Trump lead mob and BLM protestors—as well as other protestors advocating for civil liberties and equal justice—is blatant. The deep and entrenched racism that continues to plague this country was encouraged and perpetuated from the top down, and as an organization committed to social justice, we strongly condemn, and not politely, what is black and white.

While protesting after the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, BLM activists and others were met with tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets, with many sustaining serious injuries. Compare that to the gentle and polite treatment of the white insurrectionists by some law enforcement officers, and the lack of serious preparation by many. The hypocrisy is mind-blowing.

Our hope is that we take this moment to engage and begin to build the future we want; to hold our government officials accountable and speak truth to power; and finally, to do the hard work of healing and creating a world based on racial, economic, and gender justice.

WGEF works every day to promote social justice. In everything we do, justice and equality are at the heart of our work.

Peace,
Karen and WGEF