KALI with support from KWATANIZA implemented a project on enhancing 20 committed Women leaders/ councilors ‘voice’ to demand for accountability from duty bearers. This project was a continuation of a prior project that was initiated in Kasese by KALI and Kwataniza in 2008. The project built on the achievements that were realized during the training of women leaders and councilors in 22 local and urban councils in Kasese district.
In the implementation of the project, KALI identified and worked with 20 committed women leaders and councillors through enhancing their capacity to demand for accountability and advocate for the voice less. This project was organised in phases with two trainings and a follow event on the action plan developed by the women leaders and councillors during the training.
Purpose of the project
The overall purpose of the project was to enhance 20 committed women councilors/ leaders ‘voice’ to effectively demand for accountability and fully participate in governance and delivery of services at local government levels in Bukonzo County West and the district at large.
KALI, organized a two (2) days training workshop for 20 committed women councilors and leaders for the seven sub counties of Bukonzo west ( Bwera, Ihandiro, Kitholhu, Karambi, Nyakiyumbu, Isango and Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town council. The training covered the topics: legal and human rights basis for women participation in politics, council procedures, communication, negotiation, Lobbying and advocacy for accountability in service delivery.
During this training, participants (women leaders/councilors) developed an action plan (agreed and committed themselves) as a basis for putting into practice the skills and knowledge acquired. This therefore necessitated that an arrangement be made to follow up the action of women leaders/councilors in relation to the agreed issues.
A review meeting was organized to ascertain the level of participation and the impact of the training on the 20 committed women leaders and councilors and get know the progress so far made on the agreed action points.
In order for committed women leaders in Nyakiyumbu sub county to express themselves in public, KALI supported the women councilors and leaders to organize the women’s day celebrations which took place in Nyakiyumbu. This was the first of its kind in the history of the sub county. The day was characterized by women presenting a memo to the leaders asking them to involve them in the planning and budgeting of the sub county. Women also voiced the plight of the vulnerable children who are not catered for in the sub county plans. The women also questioned the allocation of the Naads project that, it was not enough for the sub county to be proud of Naads while food security meant power roles to women who are not fully represented on the committees.
KALI also facilitated the project officer to carry out field visits to support the women leaders in the field and to monitor their projects and progress made. This was done in all the seven sub counties of the project implementation. As a result of the monitoring and support, education and health of the women was recognized as key to all if leaders must show results for their actions. KALI has also realized that, women leaders still lacked capacity to engage with male leaders because of gender stereo typing that looks at a women as a follow of man, after two decades of gender mainstreaming in Uganda.
A follow up meeting was organized to assess their (women councilors/leaders) progress in terms of participation and involvement in development issues. This was to assess their progress on the agreed action points and draw a way forward..
Agreed issues/action points for follow up and findings
Conduct regular meetings at village level.
10 out of 20 committed women leaders organized at least two meetings at village and parish levels. These meetings generally targeted the women within these areas. Issues of concern were mainly water, Sanitation and hygiene, food security and livelihoods (economic empowerment) for example;
· 3 of the women leaders conducted household visits to sensitize the people about the outbreak of cholera and how to prevent disease; and also mobilized mothers to take children for immunization. This was done in Nyakiyumbu, Karambi and Bwera sub counties. Hon. Afra from Krambi Sub County held a meeting on 04/03/2012 to sensitize the community following the outbreak of cholera epidemic that had started claiming peoples’ lives in her village of Karukumiza in Karambi Sub County.
· Hon. Kyakimwa Afra hailing from Karambi Sub County confirmed having conducted three (3) meetings. One was held on 11/12/2011, it looked issues of women involvement and participation in meetings at different levels so as to enhance participatory planning.
“…During this meeting women were introduced to different skills on how to conduct meetings and Ms. Aidah Kabugho was selected to lead the meeting…”. Said Hon. Afra.
· Another meeting was held on 14/01/2012 under the theme “reviewing women’s achievements and challenges in 2011 and making a way forward for the year 2012”. According to the minutes, this meeting was chaired by Mrs. Anasteziah Bwambale. During the meeting some women were able to mention some of their achievements for instance Mrs. Getrida Kabugho had managed to purchase 2 acres of land from her SACCO savings an idea that was initiated by Hon. Afra. Mrs. Peregiya Baitababu one of the participants also said she was able to buy 10 iron sheets from her savings too.
Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town Council
· Hon. Hodillah Mainja the deputy speaker Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town Council indicated that she managed to conduct 2 meetings and that these were majorly focusing on women’s economic sustainability. The meetings took place in the areas of Kisaka and Kyanzi cells respectively. During these meetings, Hon. Hodillah advised the members to come up with an initiative that would help sustain them economically. After a long discussion on enterprise selection the members unanimously agreed on offering outside catering services. A group to manage the enterprise was selected under the name Kisaka I paragon women group with 60 members at the moment and Kyanzi paragon with 30 members. According to the honorable councilor, Kisaka group has so far offered their services at two functions and that kyanzi group.
· Honorable Getrace Ithungu of Nyakiyumbu Sub County was proud to mention that the skills she acquired during the training helped her to lobby and organize for the women’s day celebrations which took place on 08 MARCH 2012. That she lobbied for financial support from KALI and the sub county to release the funds allocated to women in the budget to run the activity. She revealed that the event took place and that about 150 people attended the function.
However some councilors revealed that they have failed to organize and hold such meetings for example in the sub county of Isango Honorable Josephine Kabwenda attributed this to the high expectations of the people in her area (expect to be given money) hence failure to attend.
Attend and actively participate in council sessions
15 out of 20 committed women leaders reported to have attended all the council sessions organized in their respective sub counties.
The 5 have at least attended one council session organized in their respective sub county. The reasons for attending only one council session were basically concerned with their gender roles, for example the woman councilor from Kitholhu missed a council session because she had a sick child.
8 out of 20 committed women leaders participated and were actively involved in council sessions. They raised motions, discussed and supported motions that concerns women issues. Some of the examples are as follows:
· Honorable Ithungu Doreen a woman councilor of Bwera Sub County said that for the first time during their term of office she became the first woman councilor to move a motion on visiting schools and monitor pupils and teacher’s performance. Schools visted to this effect include; Kitalikibi, Bwera church, kasanga and kabusongora primary schools have so far been visited. The practice was adopted in Ihandiro Sub County through a motion moved by honorable Biira Dezi and a schedule for the school outreach has been developed.
· Honorable Afra of Karambi sub County confirmed the high participation of women councilors during council sessions. She mentioned honorable Masika Agness who raised a motion in the council that was held on 19/04/2012 on leasing sub county land and other facilities including the playground in Karambi trading centre, health centers, markets and parish headquarters. Implementation has to this effect taken course.
In the same session, that honorable Masika Annet pushed for the regaining back of Bikunya parish land which the LCII person Mr. Boosi Zorosi had sold illegally the motion was supported. Also that honorable Afra pushed for the provision of Local Government Acts to all councilors and that the motion was supported however referred for the next financial year. All motions got a unanimous support and committees to follow up the resolutions will be submitting findings to council in June.
Honorable Afra however mentioned that honorable Masika polina (councilor for the disabled) was still lagging behind in terms of council participation. She attributed this to the nature of her appearance (Disability) and more efforts were still needed to empower her.
· Equally honorable Hodillah Mainja confirmed her regular attendance and participation during last council meeting that was held on 08/02/2012 she shared her issue of concern (shifting the town council parking yard to a better place) with other female councilors and by virtue of her position (Deputy speaker), honorable Norah moved the motion on her behalf. However she explained that since she was appointed the deputy speaker she has never conducted/led any council meeting/session.
However some councilors pointed out that they do attend council but their efforts towards council participation are sometimes held back by their male counter parts who still believe in supremacy. They also mentioned that some clerks to council have suppressed them in councils.
However, the women leaders promised to organize a pre-council session where they will be able to come up with strategies of how to bring the female speaker on board.
Re-awakening of women councils
12 out 20 committed women leaders have conducted meetings with their women councils to reawaken them and mobilize them to start meeting. This was done in the sub counties of Bwera, Kitholhu, Ihandiro, mpondwe lhubiriha and Nyakiyumbu.
7 out of 20 committed leaders have attempted to meet with the sub county leadership over the issue of facilitating the women council meetings. They were promised support.
During the follow up meeting, it was found out that Women councils have failed to take off seriously in most of the sub counties apart from Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town Council where the women council sits regularly. This action point has been challenging to the women leaders as it requires funds.
Working towards supporting women projects
9 out 20 committed women leaders have worked towards supporting women projects. These projects were in form of Savings initiatives; this was introduced in Nyakiyumbu and Karambi Sub Counties by the women councilor and women in Kawolwe and kisolholho parishes save every month. This is in addition to 8 SACCOs that they had established the other time.
Other women projects supported include; initiated women groups to benefit from NAADs program, each woman councilor has supported at least one group which benefited from the NAADs program; 5 groups were supported by the women councilors to write proposals for support and shared them with stakeholders of which KALI was also reached for support. These were done in the sub counties of Nyakiyumbu, Bwera, Mpondwe Lhubiriha, Ihandiro and Karambi.
Functional Adult Learning
In a few sub counties where FAL program is available, the women leaders have tried to mobilize women to take part in this program. This was done in Nyakiyumbu and Karambi sub counties.
The FAL program is not active in many sub counties but 6 out of 20 committed women leaders have managed to engage with other sub county leaders to have money allocated to this program. However, even when the women have been mobilized to participate in FAL program, this has not taken off and money not yet allocated.
· The project has empowered the 20 committed women councilors and leaders who can now actively participate in council session and also raise motions. This has enabled a number of issues concerning women to be tabled.
· At least one women council has been fully revived (Mpondwe Lhubiriha Town Council) and this will serve as an example to the other sub counties where members were mobilized but have not yet started off fully.
· The 20 committed women leaders and councilors are mentoring other women leaders within their sub counties and mobilizing them to take part in the development programs of their sub counties.
· There is a challenge of reaching out to other women leaders by the 20 committed women leaders since it involves a cost and can only reach out to a few.
· Other action points agreed upon by the women leaders were not easily achieved. These are the FAL program and women councils; this was mainly because of the limited resources at sub county level to facilitate the above.
· The other challenge is the male dominated society. We are working in a male dominated society and therefore, women remain women however much they are empowered. The men will always take their position. This requires working together (all stakeholders) to ensure women empowerment.
· Roll out of the activities to other sub counties, since the women tained have shown commitment in being role models
· Taking the approach of the committed leaders to school and higher institutions, this will take KALI to another level of meeting with leaders in schools/institutions who are joining the public sector soon;
· Sharing the experiences of KALI with other development partners, KALI if resources allow has had hands on training and could these skills to cascade the experiences and learnings to a bigger audience;
· Gender mainstreaming was a process thus needed continous follow ups and trainings.