Patron -  Joanna Lumley, OBE

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Economic empowerment of pastoral women

The Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme, WEEP. This programme was funded by the Danish International Development Authority (Danida) for a period of three years, working with women’s groups in the “Cattle Corridor” of western Uganda, Kassala State in eastern Sudan and in three districts in Somaliland. The principal goal was to increase women’s independent incomes by:
• equipping women with the skill and knowledge needed to develop new enterprises
• increasing women’s access to finance and markets
• increasing women’s access to information and
• increasing women’s participation in business networks.
 
The programme combined analysis of local conditions with the design of local tailored training and complementary interventions. Policy and advocacy workshops were held on the basis of the analytical work, with specific issues highlighted in each country - restrictions on formal-sector employment in Somaliland, as well as the transformational potential of telecommunications and mobile phone banking, and counterfeit products in Uganda.
 
There were tangible benefits of business skills training and support for women’s micro-enterprise, with women able to cover school fees and medical expenses. But, transformational change requires more. It is important to link up the grassroots and policy levels. First, micro-projects should inform and enrich policy work. Next, projects, analysis and research must support actions at higher levels. Moreover, achieving transformational change requires supportive policies on trade and taxes (with private and public investments in transport, telecommunications and education and health services trade, taxes) as well as working with higher level business networks (attractinginvestment). In the longer term, the key issues are:

 

1. Getting more pastoralist girls into schools;
2. Improving the quality of education;
3. Increasing women’s access to information and training;
4. Improving transport and telecommunications infrastructure and
5. Fostering investment and small and medium enterprises which can employ women.
 
Thinking regionally, with similar pastoral communities and differing circumstances, there were lessons for each country from others’ experiences. Mobile phones in Somaliland enabling women to make payments without traveling. In Uganda, strong support for women’s participation in public life helping women to participate in business networks. The scope of the Somali diaspora and regional business networks. The influence of satellite television. Across the region, rapid economic growth and urbanization are bringing new opportunities for women, as well as new challenges.

The aims and objectives of the programme can be obtained from a presentation which can be downloaded as a pdf here (131 kb) .

Local staff have been recruited in each country and base line and mapping study are being conducted. So far, base line studies have been completed in Sudan (click here for the Sudan study - 1,135 kb) and in Uganda (click here for the Uganda study - 521 kb). The Somaliland study is in progress and will be made available shortly. A photo essay showing some of the activities of pastoralist women in Somaliland can be downloaded by clicking here. (766 kb)

In February 2010, a Business Skills workshop was held for 40 pastoralist women from Western Uganda. The women were given training in basic record keeping, how to price their products and sales techniques. A major aspect was the support the women gave to each other. A report and photo essay of this workshop can be downloaded here (738 kb).

In addition, a photo essay illustrating the involvement of women in Uganda can be downloaded here as a pdf for those with a fast connection (2,342 kb)