Accelerating gender equality through economic empowerment

Left-Right: Halima Ayu, Refugee Welfare Chairperson, Kevin Juliet Maria, Refugee Women Council Chairperson, Charles Bafaki, Assistant Commissioner OPM, Salome Anyioti, Gender Advisor Parliament and Mariam Magdalen Alum, protection Advisor LWF during a panel discussion on women's day at the Ugandan Parliament. Photo: Stella Namatovu


In commemoration of this year’s Women’s Day of 2024, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) project in collaboration with the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) organised a momentous national dialogue on March 6, 2024. With funding from Bread for the World (BROT), the dialogue, was organized under the evocative theme, Count her in: Accelerating gender equality through economic empowerment.


With a major focus on the economic status of women living in refugee settlements, the dialogue brought together members of parliament, refugee women, and representatives from various national and international NGOs along with CSOs. At the forefront of this transformative discourse, in her opening remarks Adriana Franco Chitanana, the Country Representative of LWF in Uganda, shed light on the arduous journey of Ugandan refugee women, traversing a landscape marred by inequality, discrimination, and the ominous specter of gender-based violence.


"For refugee women, the path to economic empowerment is strewn with formidable obstacles," Chitanana said, her words echoing with urgency. "From restricted access to formal employment and land to the absence of collateral for loans and sparse market opportunities, their struggles are multiple constant and relevant."


At the heart of the dialogue, a diverse panel grappled with the realities faced by refugee women. Two refugee women representatives lent their voices, sharing touching narratives of resilience amidst adversity. Their stories illuminated the economic challenges plaguing their communities, underscoring the imperative for collective action.


Additionally, the event served as a platform for refugee women from Adjumani and Lamwo to showcase their remarkable products such as bids, bags, African attires, etc. These women, empowered by the skills acquired through LWF initiatives, presented a tangible testament to the transformative power of economic empowerment.


Representing the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Sarah Mateke, Minister of Youth and Children Affairs, discussed government initiatives aimed at promoting gender equity. She highlighted programs such as the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program and emphasized Parliament's crucial role in legislative oversight and policy formulation. “The Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program and other schemes aim to unlock women's business potential. Parliament's role in oversight and legislation is pivotal. Dialogues like these assess progress and chart the way forward."


As LWF marks 45 years in Uganda, we celebrate our dedication to advancing gender equality through economic empowerment, recognizing the pivotal role it plays in fostering inclusive development. Through initiatives like vocational training, Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), cash grants, and agricultural support, LWF continues to equip women with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary for self-employment and active participation in economic activities. Our programs focus on enhancing women's confidence, fostering healthy competition, and promoting their engagement in various spheres of life.

By actively participating in economic activities, women gain financial independence, which, in turn, translates into self-reliance and community reintegration. The multifaceted impact of these efforts extends beyond individual empowerment to the collective upliftment of the communities we serve, fostering improved economic well-being and paving the way for sustained gender equality.