Sudat Nakaketo is a woman councilor in Bombo Sub-county, Luwero District. She is the chairperson of Bombo Women Living with HIV/AIDS group, a self-help group that was started to support women living with HIV/AIDS in Bombo Sub-county. The group currently has a membership of 200. Despite existence of the group, Sudat concedes that until recently, the group leadership and activities were uncoordinated and there was limited participation of group members. In 2015, as part of the Women Economic Justice project, NAWOU with development support from FOKUS began to implement a series of community dialogue training sessions among 26 women groups in Luwero District. Representatives of the women groups were trained to lead sessions that stimulate deeper dialogue and discussion around group leadership, group sustainable and development of group economic activities.
Justine from Kavule Women’s group perfoming a role play of community dialogues
The dialogues provided space in which group members openly examined issues affecting group coordination and agreed on possible mitigating strategies. A particular strength of the dialogue sessions is that they accord group leaders a chance to present and respond to criticism from the members and inform them about how they intend to solve the issues raised. At these forums, government departments are also able to share information about the programmes and services they offer. Silvia Nakubulwa testifies saying “disagreements are still there, but people are now not scared to talk — members put issues on the table and feel free to openly talk about them.” The women groups testify that the dialogues have enabled them unpack issues that affected their group leadership and stalled growth of the group economic initiatives.
Building on this strength, the group members act as ambassadors and a mouthpiece of the project, disseminating information as well as assisting in training other group members. “The dialogue sessions make it feel like we are in a mini-parliament,” mentioned Sudat. A group like BWOLA group was able to agree on a maintenance fee for their recently acquired solar dryer that is used by all members to dry their fruits for sale. The group also developed a marketing strategy that they are using to access local market for their dried fruits.
The women participated in a game that created a platform for open sharing
The positive effects of the dialogue sessions continue to be felt in BWOLA to this day this is the same in the other 25 women groups. The community dialogues have provided a strong platform for women to come together and take individual and collective responsibility for advancing themselves to economic justice.