By Prof. Waswa Balunywa and Diana Nandagire Ntamu
A local social enterprise in Iganga district was founded to help young people and women to get into employment. The Foundation based in Iganga was established by young people who had benefited from career guidance from a family in Iganga. The Foundation which was established in 2007 is intended to expose young people to various opportunities for self-employment and where possible to paid employment. It organizes training sessions including practical ones like soap making, candle making among others. The Foundation also focuses on women. At a training that lasted over 4 ½ hours, women were advised to dialogue with their husbands to enable them understand the need for women to work.
Women were initially taken through the socialization process informing them how the differences between men and women emerge and how women had become the disadvantaged group.
The fundamental differences between men and women arise from biological differences. Men in the traditional society had taken advantage of this difference to create roles between men and women. These roles had kept women in the kitchen. Women were seen as people who are responsible for conceiving and bearing children. The consequence of this socialization has been to deny women certain rights that are ordinarily enjoyed by men. These include the right to education, right to property, right to space among others. For this reason women have failed to advance economically and socially. In developing countries, affirmative action and legislation have enabled change to take place in this process. Women now enjoy relatively more rights than before. In many developing countries including Uganda, women still perceive themselves as subservient to men and this has been perpetuated by the men themselves.
The Foundation invites women for training in empowerment. The Foundation sensitizes women about these facts and alerts women about the need for them to be gainfully employed while seeking acceptance of their husbands. The Foundation is pursuing a social objective of empowering women to improve their social and economic status. The training conducted included identification of the challenges that women face. Indeed women confessed that they were seen as objects in homes who should provide food even if no money was given to them. Husbands found it appropriate to stay out late and return to demand for food from their wives. Women accused men of having multiple relationships while they as women were not expected to do so. From women who worked, husbands expected them to meet the home budget without assistance from the men. The women were urged to find ways of discussing these matters with their husbands with a view to sensitizing them about the need for women to work while at the same time contribute meaningfully to the family budget. The Foundation invites facilitators who act as volunteers to cause a discussion on how best this can be achieved. Besides, this sensitization, women are also trained in activities of wealth creation; how to start a business, how to attract customers and how to improve businesses. Several women gave testimonies and some stated that their lives had changed as a result of this training. They had started businesses, others said they now understood the need to discuss with their husbands how to improve their lives and those of their families through work. Some had already discussed with their husbands and the husbands had allowed them to work. The women urged the trainers to convince their husbands to come for training if they were to be more successful in this social economic transformation. Some women reported negative results saying that their husbands had not allowed them to work despite the discussion they had had. (The name of the Foundation has not been disclosed for purposes of confidentiality).