Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda, the government sanctioned a lockdown as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. This brought with it serious impacts especially on those working in the informal sector. In Uganda, 85% of working women are in the informal sector which is characterized with insecure employment, low earnings and productivity. As a result of the lockdown, many women became unemployed and could not provide for their families leading to a spark in Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases and thus resulting into women and girls’ mental wellness.
On 2-3rd December, NAWAD with support from her partner Womankind Worldwide conducted a campaign on Violence against women and girls (VAWG) under the theme “Women’s Mental Health and Wellness Matters” in Nwoya district. This was done following the global theme VAWG in the World of Work, with particular focus on women working in the informal sector.
Activities included a community drive to increase awareness on VAWG, its adverse effects on mental health and the importance of wellness, established two mobile GBV clinics for counselling services to victims and survivors of violence and a community dialogue to strengthen women’s capacity to stand against, speak up and report GBV. This was all possible in collaboration with Local government officials, COVID-19 district task force, the police, Village Health Teams and Nwoya Young Women and girls with Disabilities Association registered under NUWODU.
33 year old Wanican Molly from Anaka town council narrated that she was only fourteen years when she got raped and impregnated by now her husband David. It was one evening when her mother had sent her to collect some water from the well that was hidden approximately 350metres into the dark woods away from their home, when she felt from her back hands tightly wrapped around her mouth. As she struggled in fear to make an alarm, nothing could be heard from her except for the silent granting sighs begging for help. “He quickly drugged me to the wet leafy ground, pulled out a shiny knife and asked me to remain silent otherwise he would cut off my head and without wasting time David rapped me,” Molly said. Unfortunately, to keep their family bond with David’s parents, Molly’s parents forced her into marriage to David on realizing that she had got pregnant.
Consequently after sensitization, different women were able to speak up openly about their past experiences in relation to GBV and offer each other psychosocial support as a sign of solidarity. Among the participants that attended the community dialogue, each left with a flyer to continue sensitizing other members in the community. The participants also committed to formulating an advocacy group (Nwoya Women’s Advocacy Group) purposefully for raising women’s voices against GBV to authorities. They also agreed to meet as may be deemed necessary to support victims of GBV psychosocially or even economically.
NAWAD believes that peaceful families lead to peaceful communities and thus to a peaceful nation. Male engagement in all our activities increased their awareness on the pivotal role they have got to play to the elimination of violence against women and girls in the society. Men were meant to understand that their payment of dowry was not to take their wives as property, but rather as a sign of appreciation to the woman’s parents and hence were advised to treat their wives as companions. Those men that were engaged in the sensitization process, participated as male change makers since in the African setting men easily listen to fellow men for knowledge advancement.
Breastfeeding plays a very crucial role in the proper growth, health and development of babies and mothers. Whereas the Ugandan government is at the forefront of creating breastfeeding corners for mothers so as to support proper early childhood development the global Breastfeeding Scorecard reported that only 40% of children under 6 months are fed on only breast milk. Studies indicate that breastfeeding not only helps in the growth and development of babies’ immunity but also helps in the mother’s physical and emotional growth and relationship with her baby. Breastmilk works like a baby’s first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases which ensures all nourishments they need to survive and thrive.Therefore, all mothers are encouraged to spare time off their busy schedules to breastfeed their babies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), full or exclusive breast feeding should at least happen for the first six months and then the continuation of breastfeeding along with complementary foods for 2 years or longer. It is important for mothers to note that any amount of breast milk given to their children is beneficial not only with the nutritional value but also contains antibodies and other immune properties that no one would ever wish for their child to miss. Its therefore essential to adhere to exclusive breast feeding coupled with good hygiene before, during and after breastfeeding babies.
This week, as the world celebrates the breastfeeding week,
NAWAD raises her voice to the wider public to create safe environments and spaces both at public and work places where breastfeeding mothers can freely and comfortably breastfeed their babies.
Men should also take up the influential role of encouraging mothers to breast feed their babies.
This year, National Association for Women’s Action in Development (NAWAD) has been privileged to be one of the organizations that supported the implementation of the global Agenda 2030. With the objective of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, NAWAD in partnership with Action for Rural Women Empowerment (ARUWE) and with support from Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF) aimed at building the capacity of women’s civil society organizations towards achieving the Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement. This was done by facilitating women to engage in development and government policy processes through networking and movement building under the theme “Women Building Power for Gender Equality and Environmental Justice.” This project targeted women groups at the grass root and thus was implemented in Nyabuhama, Biharwe sub-county in Mbarara district.
Among the activities for the project, NAWAD organized a meeting with the community women that resulted into the formulation of a women led movement group whose committee was elected for and a position formulated, As if that was not enough, NAWAD went ahead and organized for another meeting that connected the members to their leaders at sub-county level with whom the women can always interface with for support and knowledge on matters that affect them. The women went ahead and formulated a constitution to govern them and agreed to at least meet every Tuesday for development. According to us, this was milestone moved in achieving our goal as an organization.