In our maiden conversation with Women In the Jungle Initiative [WOJI] Chief Executive Officer Phiona Babirye Nabukenya this week, attention is drawn to the attrocities women face due to their sexuality and ways to over come them.
“We are trying to find answers to a very complex question here. Why should one suffer all the injustices? We suffer just because of our sexuality! Why can’t women and girls have a life similar to that of their male counterparts? ” Ms Nabukenya begins our interview with a rhetoric question.
WOJI is a women’s rights and welfare transformation organisation situated in Bulaga, Wakiso District.
Their major mission is to help women shade off the weight of the injustices they face as a result of their sexuality. Ms Nabukenya notes that as a result of the biting poverty in the communities, many women have been unable to attend school with parents often times prioritizing their male counterparts instead.
During the COVID19 pandemic period, Nabukenya reveals that the situation has been worsened. According to the available statistics from the authorities, majority of the students who failed to make it back to school after the a ban on schooling activities was lifted are girls. Either they were found pregnant or their parents, for lack of enough funds opted to take back boys leaving them.
Nabukenya however says that this is not a new phenomenon. Natural factors have in the past held women back. Girls in schools, right from primary have many times been forced to drop out for lack of menstruation pads when their periods come. Eventhough this is partly because some parents have means to provide these utilities, Nabukenya says that in some instances, others have but they don’t treat the matter with the seriousness it deserves.
” Many end breaking off and for those who soldier on, temptations often overpower them while trying to find alternative means of provision. As a result, early sex sets in leading to early marriages and disease.” Explains Nabukenya.
What WOJI is doing about it
A sensitization campaign designed to constantly engage parents on their obligations towards their girl children has been embarked on. Here, they identify families have, or are most likely to drop out of school and they reach out to parents to discuss a solution and guide where necessary.
They are also engaging various partners to set up a fund which will distribute free sanitary towels to the most unfortunate school girls in school who risk to miss out school when their periods set in.
Through periodic visits to schools, woman to woman talk sessions with girls are carried out with an objective of boosting the adolescent girls’ perseverance whenever faced with challenges caused by their sexuality.
In the future, WOJI plans to sponsor a women’s empowerment project where women will be trained to make homemade sanitary pads to use for themselves and also provide to their school going daughters. They will also provide a platform where the surplus can go to the market to raise some money and improve their welfare.
A skills training program is also in the pipeline to skill women in activities such as tailoring, Baking and Confectionary, Catering. A skiling center is planned to be located in Bulaga later this year.
WOJI also intends to mobilize women into forming Women’s savings and investment groups in their communities where business and investment plans will be discussed, incubated and implemented through pulling resources. Here, they will basically explore home based business possibilities to curb resistance from husband’s.
Speaks to the government, public
Nabukenya says as women, they are thankful to the current government’s efforts in uplifting the status of women but also notes that a lot is still wanting. For as long as women remain enchained to their marital houses and treated like home security guards by their male partners, status transformation will remain a mere dream.
She thus proposes targeted legislations to particularly guarantee status equality between men and women not only outside but also inside homes.
In accordance with the Minister of Education and First Lady Janet Museveni’s promise to provide free sanitary pads for school going girls, she calls the government to reconsider the proposal and implement it as a government policy. This, she says will go a long way to reduce school dropout rates.
Asked what lies ahead for WOJI, Nabukenya says their dream is to extend their operations to many more places around the country. On why they chose to start their operations from Wakiso yet there seems to be a bigger need in the rural area, she said this was just an assumption. She argues that the status inequality is a mindset problem needed to be preached against and that it exists everywhere and anywhere. Through the use of mass media, when means allow, she says engaging a larger community will greatly have an impact on the people’s mindset about women.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org