A Frenzied yet Successful and Joyous Women’s Day

5th April 2018

One of my favourite photos of the day – girls championing #pressforprogress and other elevating messages about girls for International Women’s Day   The celebratory International Women’s Day event at WIL Uganda was the highlight of the month, and a day that will have continuing ripple effect in the town of Busembatia. My task during the event was to photograph and record everything that was happening, and I was excited to create social media content from the people and activities I would capture that day.   The day started smoothly as I went to pick up girls from Standard High School and we chatted and laughed along the way to the office. The tent and the chairs were being set up as I started going around to photograph people arriving: women in their beautiful traditional dresses, the marching band tuning their instruments, and children from all over being drawn to the commotion we were creating in the community.   Then as the marching band began organizing to start the march, with my camera in hand, a screen popped on my camera: “memory full”. Panic set in as I realized my laptop to empty my camera on was at home – so I ran home to get my laptop and make space on my camera for the rest of the photos and videos to be taken that day. After running back and forth, having more technical difficulties with my laptop, and asking a friend from Canad

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5th April 2018

Participants of the teen voices programme from Townside High School and facilitator Bethan Williams, pictured outside WIL Uganda offices on International Women’s Day   The 8th March has increasingly become a day of marked attention and #pressforprogress. A day of celebration, conversation and advocacy of women’s rights. In Busembatia, participants of Women in Leadership Uganda marched to celebrate and mobilise support – and what a vibrant and visible day it was!   To many here was just a normal morning on a normal day, as the cockerels sounded and the sun began to rise. However, it really wasn’t. A national holiday, no work, no school, but why, I asked myself? International Women’s Day was the reply. I was shocked, stunned almost. To declare a national holiday was such a progressive step, I pondered receptivity in other countries I had worked in and visited, and their attitudes towards such a day.   This wasn’t the first realisation I had had since being in country, however it was a large one, Uganda was progressive, Uganda was ready. Uganda was leading a change, right here on my doorstep. I considered what lessons could be taken back, to my own country of residence. Sure, International Women’s Day is a recognised and celebrated day, but a National holiday – how fantastic!   The celebrations started with a march, led by a

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5th April 2018

I arrived from Vancouver, Canada one week ago and learning that my name, Neda, means “no” in Uganda’s language (Luganda) was a great first lesson in living here.   When I first arrived in Uganda I was at the same time excited and nervous, as it is my first time on the continent of Africa. We were first greeted by a welcoming Joseph, our volunteer coordinator, and a driver who drove us from Entebbe to Busembatia in a very hot car ride. That is probably the first thing foreigners need to adjust to: always being hot. Coming from Canada where it is winter it was an especially stark contrast; but I love the warmth and I think I am adapting already. Other new things to adjust to have been: bucket showers (which aren’t too bad!), long drop toilets, chickens, cows, and goat all around us and waking us up, and the mosque’s call to prayer very early in the mornings. Getting a lot of attention because we are foreign is also a new experience I haven’t had since I was in China a few years ago so I need to get used to that again.   However, I’m excited to get acquainted with food tasting differently, modes of communication being different, my perception of time and distance changing, learning new words in a language, building new relationships and connections, learning from a new culture in endless ways, and of course exploring cities like Jinja and Kampala.   I

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5th April 2018

Training with WIL Uganda team in the new office location, Busembatia   A smile, that’s what greeted me as I walked out of Entebbe airport undoubtedly with worried eyes, pushing an incredibly heavy suitcase. I had arrived and so had he: Joseph, volunteer coordinator and community mobiliser, and there he was. Happy to help, answer any questions and already, evidently equipped with a wealth of knowledge on the task I was about to undertake and on all the emotions that were running through my head as an international intern.   After a gruelling journey from the UK, with a stop over in Ethiopia, I was keen to make the journey to my placement location. I had so many unanswered questions and thoughts I had constantly pondered during the weeks in the lead up to my departure. Will it be a bucket bath or shower? A long drop or toilet? Will I make an impact? Will I feel like I have accomplished something? What will it be like working for such a small grassroots organisation? How will this differ to academia and previous experiences of working within international development in other countries? Was I making the right decision? Could there ever be too much of a good thing?   Green, everywhere. Open expanses of mountains and trees, green, everywhere. The radio was playing and our driver was laughing away, pointing out places of interest as we drove from Entebbe to

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27th November 2017

Hailing from the UK, it is incredibly easy to take British ‘sex-ed’ (Sexual Education) classes for granted. From a young age, we are provided with a clear and informative programme which discusses contraceptives, puberty, sexually transmitted infections and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy within a safe and open environment. Though eyes may temporarily glaze over during lessons and laughter may ensue during a condom demonstration, it is clear that this sustained mission to teach British adolescents about how and why they can make informed decisions about their bodies and sexual health is both necessary and effective. Honestly, it’s effectiveness only became crystal clear to me when I began this internship at Women in Leadership and I found myself reminiscing about how teachers once engaged us in the topics using visual aids to accompany detailed talks on anatomy, puberty and STIs. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for the myths and cultural barriers to teaching about family planning, teenage pregnancy and a range of other topics, but the concerns and worries articulated to me were a far cry from what I had expected. A few years ago, the Ugandan government started the ABC campaign to fight the spread of STIs and HIV – A for Abstinence, B for Be Faithful, C for Condoms. This abstinence-focussed approach may have initially helped to reduce the prevalence of HIV but

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30th October 2017

  On October 11th, it was the international day of the girl – a day which is to specifically celebrate girls worldwide. Every girl, of every nationality has the right to free education. With around 130 million girls worldwide not in education, there is still so much work to be done to support girls. At Women in Leadership, we aim to empower young girls and women to become leaders within their community. We do this by working with local schools and health centres to educate them on their rights as a woman. To celebrate the International Day of the Girl, we decided to have an office debate on the issues that women and girls are currently facing both in the UK and Uganda. Although very different cultures, we found that many of the issues were universal. Within the UK there is still a significant gap with gender pay. Many women within the UK are doing the same job titles as men and are still receiving lower salaries. Because of this, there are significantly lower numbers women within senior management positions. Another contributing factor to this is the lack of support that women have during and post pregnancy. We spoke about schemes and initiatives which the government is introducing to help women with multiple children and nursery fees. Within Uganda there is a lack of women within community leadership positions. This is due to the role of a women being seen as p

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17th August 2017

written by Leah Kenny In July 2017, WIL Uganda held an essay competition on “Teenage Pregnancy: Problems and Prevention” in three partner secondary schools. WIL Uganda’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) programme runs after school hours across different schools in Busembatia. The programme covers topics ranging from menstrual hygiene to protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. In rural Uganda, teenage pregnancy, and subsequently school drop-outs, are very common. Students who attended the SRH classes were encouraged to participate in the competition. The invitation was also extended to all students in the schools. We received many essays from students in their first, second and third year of secondary school. The essays showed the students had understood the consequences of teenage pregnancy and how it can be prevented in their communities. Essay competitions like these, are an important way to get students to think critically about sexual and reproductive health issues. The essays were judged on their style, but more importantly on their content. The prizes for 3rd, 2nd and 1st place were given out in each school at the end of term. The winning essays were ones that stated a number of social, economic and health consequences of teenage pregnancy. In addition they recognised the importance of: sex educ

18th July 2017

Every year, WIL Uganda celebrates International Women’s Day on 8 March. We invite women and girls from the community and our programmes to celebrate with us, promoting women’s empowerment. In this article Rebecca (part of our Teen Voices programme) shares her view on this festive day. In every year all Ugandan’s and the world at large remember and celebrate this day. The reason as to why they celebrate is that women are the owner of this country, so, because of this, the President of Uganda Museveni Kagauta Yowert decided to give the women opportunity to have recognition in the country and world at large. Every woman is celebrated, and everybody is in interested in the day. So many women are now members of parliament – ministers – and they always support this day because they have it as their pride from the government. Its good because it helps the younger girls know their rights, makes people aware about what women go through.

“The celebration of this day promotes equality in the country”

When Uganda joins the whole world in celebrating this day, states like Britain, USA and others can give financial assistance to Uganda. This can help Uganda to construct good roads, hospitals and school hence contributing to the economic development of the country. The celebration of thi

29th June 2017

written by Leah Kenny I take a short boda ride from Busembatia to Bulogoda every week on a Wednesday morning. I have been living in Busembatia for one month now, where alongside Meg, I have been running the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) programme. Part of our programme involves delivering sessions to women at health centres, before they attend their antenatal clinics. We do not need a lot for these sessions, aside from a plan and a large box of condoms. As we pull away from the slightly hectic main street of Busembatia, it gets quieter and the houses increasingly sparse until much of what you pass are large fields with women and children busy working on them. Bulugoda Health Centre appears to our right. It is a small two-roomed Level II Health Centre. This means that it is supposed to serve up to 5,000 people and provide preventive, promotive and outpatient services. Although it does not provide maternity services, we are told that sometimes emergency deliveries are performed here. Ruth shows us where the placentas are disposed of, out back. As you pull up to the health centre, you are distracted by a large tree

21st June 2017

written by Meg Beare There are lots of ways in which teaching in Busembatia sometimes seems like an insurmountable challenge. At times the SRHR [Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights] team of Leah and I truly feel like strangers in a strange land. The classrooms we teach in are unplastered with no glass in the windows. Inside they are dark and cramped; desks packed so tightly together that students climb over each other to get to their seats.

“There is little to no formal education about contraceptives, so when they become sexually active, their reproductive control is limited”

But the state of the classrooms doesn’t even figure as a concern here. The girls who pile into our classrooms face sexual health challenges that are immediate and intense. A quarter of girls in Uganda between ages 15 to 19 are pregnant or already have a child. There is little to no formal education about contraceptives, so when they become sexually active, their reproductive control is limited. In addition, poverty makes them easy targets for older men,