International Women’s Day, Hashtags and Ultra poor women

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It is International Women’s Day today and the question I am preoccupied with today is whether such days help ultra poor women in any meaningful ways. In the current times of hashtags the International Women’s Day has its own hashtag #IWD2017 or if you prefer #IWD17. 

But are hashtags enough to effect the sort of change ultra poor women are looking for? Do such women get to see hashtags and social media memes? 

Ultra poor women are said to 

  1. have no assets to generate their own income
  2. engage in casual labour
  3. and are poorly paid.

As far we are concerned here at LTHT, hashtags are not enough and International Women’s Day should mean more and be inclusive.

We have over the last year and half focused on providing ultra poor women with assess to generate their income.  We believe that

decent work is central to women’s #economicempowerment given its inherent importance to women’s well being and ability to advance in areas such as acquiring income and assets – ODI”

international women's day
Night with her goats

This has had an impact in the lives of women such as Night  Barema who have managed to increase their income from £2.43 to £17 a month. You can read about Night’s story here 

International women's day
Agnes- menstrual hygiene ambassador

Today, women and girls in rural Uganda cannot access information and materials to manage their menstruation. It is International women’s Day 2017 and yet some school girls still use leaves during their periods, miss 2.6 days of school each month and women use rags. To that end we launched a menstrual hygiene program last year to change this but we still have a long way to go. 

You can read about our program at http://www.lethemhelpthemselves.org/index.php/menstrual-hygiene-management-in-ntungamo-secondary-schools/

international women's day
Lydia

Widows and older women in rural Uganda are vulnerable to poor diet as they are almost always the last to eat. We started a goat program that provides an income generating asset to such women and gives them access to milk in their diet. 

As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we should reconsider where and on what we focus on as hashtags will not help ultra poor women. This day should also be about equality for women regardless of their social and economic standing. We can make a real difference in those women’s lives with very little input. 

 

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Send a chicken to an African woman- the story so far

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Back in August 2015 we started on a journey to work with the women in Ruhanga SW Uganda on initiatives that would improve their incomes.  By November we had settled on the idea of micro poultry farms for 29 women.

It has been an interesting journey so far that has seen women trained up in chicken feeding, coop building  before being handed the chicks to look after on International Women’s Day

Dorothy outside her kitchen coup
Dorothy outside her chicken coup

This is a typical chicken coop built from local materials. We provided wire mesh, nails doors and iron sheets and the women did the rest.

Women collecting their share of chicken feed
Women collecting their share of chicken feed

Each woman was given  70kg of quality feed for their chickens. This feed will cover the first three months. It is anticipated that the chicks will be let out  for a couple of hours a day to supplement their diet with greens and insects. By the end of the three months  the chickens should have started laying. The women will be able to afford the chicken feed themselves from the se hopefu

 

Maria giving out vitamins
Maria giving out vitamins

The chicks were very tired when they arrived from the breeder on International Women’s Day celebrations and needed vitamins. This is Maria distributing chicken Vitamins to the women.

Ida giving out chikcs
Ida giving out chicks to Sylvia

Having worked on this from a distance, it was an absolute pleasure to be present at the launch by handing out chicks to women. I must say I was overwhelmed by the energy and atmosphere of the day.

 

Night and her husband Paddy with their share of chicks
Night and her husband Paddy with their share of chicks

Night Barayemura is one of the beneficiaries of this initiative. She’s 40 years old and has 7 beautiful children. As many others in the community, she’s a subsistence farmer and currently earns an average of £4 a month by selling some of her green bananas (matooke), beans and ground nuts (peanuts) around the village. Through this project, she’s hoping to provide a better diet for her family as they currently consume green vegetables twice a week and meat only on Christmas Day.

Caroline and her husband collect their laying box
Caroline and her husband collect their laying box

Following the distribution of the boxes, the carpenter was once again very busy making up 29 laying boxes. The boxes are very heavy and it was good see that men recognised this and stepped in to help their wives take the boxes home.

Secondary Beneficiaries

This program has benefited suppliers of  services too

 

Denis- Carpenter on the Chicken project
Denis (one in the stripped polo shirt)- Carpenter on the Chicken project

Denis (one in stripped polo shirt) is 32 years old and is married with three children. Currently, he has a team of 7 carpenters and apprentices who help him with different orders. They mostly build doors and seats. For the ‘Send a chicken to an African woman’ project, he built 15 feeders and 27 nest boxes. He reckons his profits were about 240,000 UGX, (£51.62) which he reinvested in materials for his workshop.

Send a chicken
Ronald Carpenter on the chicken program

Ronald is 32 years old and is married with 3 children. He has benefited twice fold from the ‘Send a chicken to an African woman’ project. Some of the women asked him for help to build their chicken coops and LTHT contracted him to build 27 doors and 14 feeders. He hired two additional people to complete the job, at a rate of 10,000 UGX (£2.15) per day. He told us his net profit from the LTHT contract was 500,000 UGX (107.53), which he used to buy new materials for his business.

 

Ultra poverty
KAMINYA TUKORE committee signing supply contract with Ruth (animal print dress)

Ruth is 33 years old and has one daughter. Ruth is poultry and farmer and supplied 330 chicks to the project which meant increased income and a profit of UGX 1.3 (279.56). Ruth says that, the project has given her an opportunity to help her other women through sharing with them the knowledge about poultry keeping. This had always been her long time desire as she wants to see women work there way out of the poverty. In addition, the project has created awareness about her business thus expanding her clientele base.

Next steps

In the next steps the women will learn about routes to market, book keeping and savings. If you would like to be updated as to the women’s progress sign up to our Newsletter  or like our Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

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Sisters are Doing it for Themselves

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Ugandan crafts
craft Stall – Ruhanga SW Uganda

A consultation exercise to gather local views on the viability of establishing a new marketplace in the village is being undertaken by the Ruhanga Women’s Empowerment Project, a small independent micro-finance initiative in Ruhanga run by the women themselves that provides advice and support about how to increase income through developing sound business ideas enabling themselves and other women to take greater control of their own lives.

The consultation exercise ~ which will reach out to the village farming community and other stakeholders ~ will explore whether such a marketplace would help the Ruhanga economy by bringing in extra income from passing trade and how it could be run in an independent and sustainable way. 

The group hope to report back to the local chairmen in late March.

Amongst other initiatives the group currently operates a roadside stall that sell crafts that are handmade from locally sourced natural materials which are also shipped around the world. If you would like a bit of Ruhanga in your home or to give as a gift, the crafts are available through:

http://www.ethnicsupplies.co.uk/product-category/african-baskets/

Should the consultation prove successful and the new marketplace established, it should generate additional income for local farming families and provide a much needed economic boost to the wider community.

We’ll keep you posted.

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International Women’s Day 2015- Jobs for girls

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This is an interesting year from the point of view of International Development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will end in September this year and a new set of development goals will be unveiled following years of debate as to what the new goals should look like Read more

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