Strengthening Grassroots Women’s Groups to Promote and Protect Civic Space in Uganda
The project goal is to empower 6,000 women by raising awareness of their gender specific rights, promoting women’s political participation, and addressing all forms of injustices that affect women’s wellbeing; strengthen the capacity of 100 unregistered women’s groups to become registered under the NGOs Act 2016; and support 100 registered women’s groups in advocating, promoting and protecting civic space in Uganda. Project activities will incorporate actions in response to the Covid-19 crisis, as it impacts women, including gender-based violence as well as social and economic pressures.
Lessons from Project
Associations supported by paying members, more so than local NGOs, can benefit from projects that expand their areas of operations by adding members and thus improving their financial sustainability.
WhatsApp can be a key project management tool that delivers support to both cost-effective monitoring of implementation and the building of networks and structures. But this is most effective when combined with occasional in-person meetings or visits, to ensure personal relationships are built offline, before they are maintained, sustained, and developed online.
For training to resonate and be most impactful, they need to be delivered in a setting and format that appeals to participants. Ensuring that they are conducted in the language participants are most familiar with and in an interactive and engaging format can aid with comprehension and ultimately impact.
The volume of activities proposed by a project does not always equate to a greater impact. Sometimes giving more focus, either in terms of geographic spread or to the activities being undertaken, can generate more sustained and involved engagement and more substantive change.
Bringing together groups of women in places where they feel comfortable talking and discussing issues can help build longer-term momentum for a shift in attitudes, even if this is very hard to measure.
Supporting a grantee to expand its geographical area of operation can enable them to create and build new networks that can increase awareness of what they do and even contribute to institutional sustainability.
It is incorrect to just assume that what people learn from training will then be applied in practice. There is another step in supporting them to feel confident to start believing and acting on what they now know and this needs to be better captured in project designs, such as through sub-granted small projects, to ensure that outputs contribute to the achievement of outcomes.
It is vital to document and present evidence of how a project meets target indicators in the delivery of its activities both for internal learning but also to be able to demonstrate effectiveness and impact in a robust and comprehensive way. This requires a dedicated person in charge of monitoring, evaluating, and learning.
Empowering women when it comes to realizing their rights, not just learning about them, requires the support of men – both in their family and in the community at-large – and they should be brought on board to champion wider societal transformation around gender.
Communication strategies should reflect the local context and most importantly be tailored towards the target audience. It is therefore important to identify the communication tools with the greatest local resonance and translate all material into local languages.
Prevailing poverty, a reality for many grassroots women, makes it hard for them to focus on pushing for their rights over economic necessity. In fact, economic empowerment can put people in a position to care more about the former and therefore projects that look to advance rights at this level should seek to incorporate an economic development component as part of the wider project.