The Women Economic Empowerment and Sustainable Livelihood Program advocates for economic justice for women and develops women’s capacity and potential to participate in business and entrepreneurship and favourably compete in the economic market. Women’s active participation and inclusion in resource allocation and exploitation promotes their economic independence and improves their status in society. NAWOU uses a rights-based approach to ensure women achieve economic justice and equal and equitable access to factors of production like land, markets, inputs and information. Under this programme, NAWOU works with women engaged in agriculture and artisans who undertake crafts making, to promote agribusiness, value chain production and access to markets. This entails promoting value addition, bulk production and cooperatives for women to realize the benefits of working in collectives.
The Program also aims at promoting women’s financial literacy by equipping them with saving and borrowing skills. Women are trained to form Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) where they save funds for microenterprise investment and have access to credit from their own VSLA groups. With time, the VSLA groups graduate into Sub-County and District-based Cooperatives as a result of increased savings and production.
Why Economic Empowerment for Women?
Women in Uganda make up 83% of the agricultural labour force. They produce a great percentage of agricultural products but do not own most of the land from which they produce. Yet, women are often considered to be economically inactive because they produce largely for subsistence purposes and provide labour for what is marketed and yet lack control over the proceeds. Similarly, women’s lack of decision-making power is greatly attributed to their lack of economic independence, which in turn contributes to economic injustices and poor social outcomes such as high levels of illiteracy, violence in the home, early pregnancy and early marriages, and maternal and child mortality, among other effects. Women, therefore, although investing a lot of time and labour in economic activities, get a very low return on investment. Empowering women economically therefore means exposing them to opportunities that will maximize their inputs and increase their income and asset base.