URDT acknowledges that women are key to sustainable development It appreciates that Uganda can only develop fully when both women and men are educated and work together.
Unfortunately, women and girls in Uganda are often victims of structures in society that has kept them:
- Ignorant and in subservient roles
- Un-exposed to modern farm economies, while farming is their major livelihood
- Far from developing their leadership potential, while re-known for their hard work and multi-tasking abilities
Most rural mothers:
- Don’t make informed decisions on nutrition, vaccination and family planning.
- They are insufficiently educated to get out of the poverty trap.
- They are not allowed to participate effectively in community development planning and policy formulation.
Therefore, most of URDT’s training and education interventions are geared towards;
- Creating a pool of value driven, knowledgeable women who participate effectively in socio-economic development and political activities. Including speaking up for peaceful ways of dealing with tribal and other differences
- Ensure that atleast 80% of its senior staff are female
URDT Empowers women through:
- URDT Girls SchooL
- African Rural University, an all womens university
- Gender and HIV/AIDS project
- Special Projects
- Girl Education Movement (GEM) – see below
Examples of URDT’s girls and women empowerment interventions and achievements:
- From the early 1990s URDT, supports women entrepreneurship initiatives. Examples are establishment of:
- the first women bank in the area, called Kagadi Women Finance Services with membership of 380 and a capital investment of over 400 million shillings
- the Kyengaju Creative Women’s Restaurant; Rutete Womens’ group grain millers and the Kyakabugahya Women Elders Farming Group. These enterprises continued to prosper and grow in service of members and non-members.
- the Ruteete FAL classes for women
- In 1993 URDT started a Youth leadership and vocation training institute in which young girls were enrolled in non-traditional vocational subjects like mechanics, building and construction and carpentry and joinery.-It endeavoured to enrol at least 50% girls and 50% boys. This proved to be difficult, as the cultural biases against women in male dominated professions was strong. However, the region can boast of several female carpenters and masons graduated from URDT who run their own business.
- In 2000 URDT, desirous to changing the education system, started the Education for Social Economic Transformation Programme through the URDT Girls Schools -It was the first school in the region to enrol primary and secondary girls from disadvantaged backgrounds to become change makers and also change agents in their homes and communities. The school developed the 2-generation approach to education whereby students and their parents learn together, develop a shared vision for their home, analyze their current situation, apply systems thinking, team learning, plan together and learn new skills.
- Alongside the national curriculum, the students got training to generate sustainable income, improve health status, family cooperation and peace at home while they study. They transferred the newly gained skills through back-home projects; educative theatre, workshops and radio programmes.
- For many, the girl-child is a consumer of resources, for URDT she is a resource waiting to be unleashed. Over 75% of the students’ homes have improved their income, health conditions and relationships amongst family members have improved.
- In 2006, in conformity with her constitution, URDT established the African Rural University(ARU), the first all-women’s university in the region. The idea was conceived as part of the URDT strategy for community empowerment and rural transformation in 1987.
- ARU offers talented rural women who have experienced ineffective interventions for sustainable economic and social change a Bsc in Technologies for Rural Transformation. The students are desirous to work in a rural setting and practice value driven leadership.
- The first research students graduated with a holistic perspective and competencies to facilitate community development. They now work in the community driven epicenter programme of URDT.
- to ensure the continuum in education, students from the URDT Girls’ school are encouraged to join ARU.
- In 2011 URDT requested sub-county leaders in Kibaale whether there was demand to apply and upscale URDT’s methodology to a larger population. They responsded positively, hence URDT offered to facilitate the establishment of community based epicentres (CBEs) in 16 subcounties through a Public, Private Partnership arrangement with the District Local Government.
- Through ARU, URDT developed a new breed of female community development workers whom it deployed in October 2011 as Epicentre Managers (EMs) .
- The Centres will demonstrate best practices in sustainable rural development, and create conditions for the emergency of new type of leadership in the communities and within local government.
- The EMs work closely with the sub county Community development Officers, ARU and other URDT departments. They promote the visionary, gender and human rights based approach to programming and to demand for transparency and accountability. Health, Food Security, Gender equity, Education, Peace and Freedom are promoted as rights.
- The URDTGirls’ School was part of GEM’s launch in 2001. GEM is an African wide club to raise awareness on adolescent issues and to empower the girl child to enrol, stay and complete schooling. GEM members visited many girls who dropped out of school and her parents. Over 50 girls have returned to school.
- The students learn to think and act like commercial farmers who are conscious and skilled to address the entire value chain for major cash crops.