Women who are uplifting fellow women

Saturday March 14 2020

 

By Pauline Bangirana

John Maxwell, a renowned American author, speaker and pastor, in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, highlights the law of contribution. The law states that developing yourself enables you to develop others.
Perhaps you are where you are because someone held your hand and believed in you at a time when you needed it the most.
Society has made it somewhat impossible to believe in fellow women and most women pride in tearing down others, regardless of the outcomes. Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Likewise, the energy you create and release into the world will be reciprocated at all level. Maybe this is a wakeup call to us that it is time we throw what we want to harvest. Do not expect oranges when you are throwing gooseberries. It is the law of motion.
We highlight women and the roles they are playing in society to uplift fellow wo men. It is time to raise awareness around new initiatives women are taking to help their female counterparts achieve their goals and feel empowered.
Uplifting women demonstrates just how powerful a force females can be when they support one another.

Rita Namayanja Kivumbi,
Art director
Rita Namayanja Kivumbi is a visual artist and art director at Magezi Arts Exhibition Centre. Kivumbi, also known as Rita Wise, is a blind artist who lost her eye sight five years ago. However, she did not let this deter her from realising her dreams. Kivumbi aims at developing visual art in Uganda, although her contribution to this field is hardly recognised. She promotes young talent through painting, art workshops, seminars, fashion shows, conducting outreach programmes, trainings and exhibitions, among others.
“When I lost my sight, I realised no one gives bread to the blind. I had to quit the pity party because I needed the bread,” she shares.
Kivumbi says her condition is a source of inspiration to many women like her. “I listen to them, bring them to the bakery so that they can learn how to bake and fend for ourselves. I do not give bread but I empower them with skills.”
Having supported more than 200 women and girls, Kivumbi believes she has made a social impact.
She organises community outreach programmes that teach life skills to the youth and women as a way of encouraging them to exercise art as a tool for poverty eradication and economic empowerment. She has empowered women in Iganga, Kamuli, and Kampala districts.
She, however, notes that women with different abilities lack capital to offset their businesses. This is because they are subjected to social, cultural and economic disadvantages which discriminate them from accessing health services, education, vocational training and employment, which is coupled with stigma in the community. They also experience violence such as rape, among others and special measures are needed at all levels support them.

Santa Joyce Laker,
Entreprenuer
As a retired public servant, Laker, a woman entrepreneur, is inspiring women in northern Uganda. Laker, the chairperson of a community entrepreneurship women-led cooperative society in Atiak, is helping women boost sugarcane planting business.
The cooperative currently has 5,000 members and 80 per cent are women. Laker shares that some women returned from the LRA war, others are living with HIV and some have children suffering from nodding syndrome, while some are former sex workers who are undergoing rehabilitation and counselling services. She is also an alumni of the US Embassy project in Kampala that equips women with entrepreneurship skills with a target of reaching over 25 million women in the world in five years.
Through this programme, women are trained through a dream builder course. This programme has equipped more than 200 women, with 60 graduates from Kampala and 143 from the northern region with entrepreneurship skills. She envisions a time when all women in the entire Acholi sub region will be economically empowered.
She notes that when one invests in a woman, the multiplyer effect spirals through the entire community.

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Daisy Frieda Arutun
Arutun is the founder and team leader, Visionary Lady Foundation. After losing her father at a tender age, Arutun’s maternal uncle, Wilson Okurut, took up the role of a father, until she completed her education. She was given a good background that she believes defines why she is doing what she does today.
“I would be nowhere if it was not for him and his wife. I am grateful to Okurut and I thank God for him. It is only fair that I give back to the community. I want to see all women educated and empowered to steer development,” she says.
She believes that her passion to see positive change in her community, can only be achieved when a girl is educated.
Arutun wants to give an opportunity to young woman to acquire a new skill or build on the knowledge they have. She is currently empowering young women through the use of ICT for both individual and institutional development. “I teach them better ways to make use of Internet to search for opportunities to better their lives, how to carry out advocacy issues concerning them as women using the online platforms. I make them see the power there is on online platforms. But also how can women protect themselves when using the Internet (cyber security), and their Internet rights and freedom.
“I also offer training on menstrual health management, considering that most girls are dropping out of school due to lack of sanitary towels. I have organised fundraising campaigns for people to donate reusable pads and cotton knickers for the girls, but I have realised that it is not sustainable. This is why I am teaching girls how to make the reusable pads using the available materials within their reach.”
She says these trainings in schools are registering a positive change and reducing on absenteeism and school dropouts, especially for the girls. She adds that she uses a collective approach while working with the parents, elders, boys and girls in the community to be part of the project.
“I am using the design for change approach, where members identify a problem in the community and identify solutions. I want women to own the project. We have entrepreneurship and financial literacy trainings for women.
She offers leadership trainings through encouraging girls to take up the three top most leadership positions. This, she does through building self-esteem, confidence and communication skills. She strongly believes that leadership should start at an early stage if women are to embrace the top leadership positions in our country.

Jackie Asiimwe Mwesige,
Lawyer, feminist
When she made it her mission to uplift fellow women, she held a retreat where she was celebrating the elder women. Mwesige believes that when it comes to empowering women, her role is described and embroidered in many things.
“We are where we are because a woman before us set the path for us. I recognised this by acknowledging and honouring the elders, “she shares.
To her, holding another woman’s hand is key in empowering a fellow woman reach their desired goal.
“I understand the struggle of young women leaders, having to deal with personal struggles and leadership woes. I am ready to walk this journey with women by being their leadership mentor,” she says.
There is strength that comes when women support each other.
“Even if it is just going to court to attened a court session is a form of empowering another woman.
As a mentor through her organisation, CivSource Africa, she shares that iron sharpens iron and through her Queens of Strategy, a group of women, they study together, read articles and share different ideas.
Mwesige has also coached nine women in the media. “For those I know and are going through tough times such as bad relationships, I stand with them. While working on how I can add value to others, I use my skill as a lawyer to uplift other women; and celebrating women who have contributed to my life because I know it takes a village to raise a woman.”

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