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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Update on the Rwentojo chicken program

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As we count down to the distribution day our Program Managers have been busy getting the women in Rwentojo ready. There have been several training sessions, coop construction and inspection and a lots of laughter along the way. Here are some pics from those activities. 

chicken

In this session, the women learned about chicken feeding and farm management, in particular the importance of keeping the coops clean and dry

carpenter at work
Our local carpenter has been very busy. he has had to measure the coops and make up doors for each one from scratch  

chicken coop door

Following the training session, the doors to the chicken coops were distributed

chicken

Here is one of the finished chicken coops.. I bet they had fun putting this together.


Under a semi intensive poultry farming system, water is an important aspect in the care of the chickens, so drinkers are part of the equipment the women need on their farms

send a chicken

We expect that it will be 5 months before the hens start laying eggs and as such the women will not have sufficient income to feed the chicks before then. We have therefore included three months’ chickenfeed.

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Who are the Ultra Poor?

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The Ultra Poor are defined as those people who live on less than 50 cents a day.

On 9 December 2015, the media here in the United Kingdom was preoccupied by the Ultra Poor. This is because of a report launched that day by the charity BRAC   at a lecture hosted London School of Economics (LSE) . The lecture discussed BRAC’s approaches to tackling extreme poverty through programmes that target the Ultra Poor.

At the time of this lecture,  we had just completed a home assessment exercise in Ruhanga. This involved  visiting twenty nine households in the community. Amongst our findings, that some of those households earn as little as seven pence (7p) a day.

As I followed discussions about the Ultra Poor in the media, my thoughts turned to those households in Ruhanga.  I wondered how they fitted into the narrative about ultra poverty.  I asked whether labels such as “Ultra poor” are useful in helping us understand the causes and solutions to poverty?

I will probably never know the answers to these questions, but I agree with some of the findings;

  1. the Ultra poor have no assets to generate their own income
  2. tend to be women
  3. engage in casual labour
  4. and are poorly paid.

What are we doing about the Ultra Poor in Ruhanga?

Ruhanga is a rural community in SW Uganda. The incidence of poverty is high yet most lack assets and or the skills to increase their income. The question that faces us, is what sort of interventions are appropriate in addressing such poverty.

In order to address this question, we have teamed up with a local women’s group to with a view to addressing those challenges.

We have undertaken to work with the women to increase their income by £1.75 a week.  We will achieve this by enabling participants to set up a poultry rearing business as well as acquire skills in Semi Intensive poultry rearing.

send a chicken- ultra poor
Gertrude Tumusiime- Chairperson KAMINYA TUKORE women’s group

We have called this initiative SEND  A CHICKEN TO AN AFRICAN WOMAN and work got under way after christmas with the women signing up to the terms of the project.

Ultra poor
Members of the KAMINYA TUKORE women’s group at the Send a Chicken inaugural meeting

A visit to Ruth’s farm

A key aspect of this initiative is, the women being accountable to each other through their leadership committee. Our role is to facilitate that process.

Shortly after members signed up to the project conditions, the committee visited Ruth to sign a supply agreement.

Ultra poverty
KAMINYA TUKORE committee signing supply contract with Ruth

 

send a chicken- ultra poor
KAMINYA TUKORE committee visit a chicken breeder’s farm

Ruth breeds chicks and sells them on.  On this visit, the women placed their order and learned about what poultry rearing.

Our in country team have their work cut out  but they are as excited as the women are.

Keep an eye on these pages for monthly updates.

If you would like to support our efforts please consider making a donation of £2.50 to our SEND A CHICKEN CAMPAIGN

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/sendachicken

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