Women are faced with countless challenges that greatly hinder their ability to have equal standing in society with men. Women are majorly responsible for household activities including: agriculture, food preparation, fetching water, gathering firewood and some pay school fees for their children.
On top of the hard day to day activities, the women have to battle sexual and gender-based violence along with poverty and HIV and AIDS. Due to these challenges, some end up looking for the easy way out as a way of coping. Commercial sex has been one of the “get money quick” mechanisms but they are oblivious to the fact that this makes them more vulnerable to gender-based violence.
In order to address some of these issues, HIJRA protection sector together with the livelihoods sector embarked on economic empowerment strategy to support women through Livelihood strategies. These look at where people are, what they have and what their needs and interests are. In this case through the several meetings held with the women at risk including survivors of SGBV, they expressed the need for small businesses which was followed up and ensured.
The first group of 10 women were supported to start/run income-generating activities (IGA’s) in form of goat rearing and to run small-scale businesses. The small-scale businesses include: selling silver fish, rice, beans, shoes for ladies, cooking oil, deep-fried fish, tomatoes and cabbages. The women operate most of their businesses in Kajaho market with close monitoring by the HIJRA Protection team.
From the implementation of the project, the women are now able to raise school fees for their children. 04 these women have already taken their children from education for all to private schools for better education and 1 woman has a son at Rwamurunga secondary school in Senior one. They have been able to support their families with food from the profits they make and their children eat a balanced diet. Through saving some of the women have also managed to buy ducks, goats, pigs, mattresses and phones for communicating with the customers.
The economic empowerment program has improved the women’s living standards and for that they appreciate HIJRA and UNHCR for the support. “Previously we used to talk a lot about issues of men and children but now we talk a lot about our businesses, goats and marketing.”
These Income Generating Activities have become an avenue for women to assume new roles, develop new capacities and empower themselves and work towards self-sustainability.