Empowering Beyond Women’s Day; ARU's Visionary Approach to Gender Equality

Empowering Beyond Women’s Day; ARU's Visionary Approach to Gender Equality
Inhebantu Mutesi (centre) leads women.

By Rose Keishanyu

This Friday, March 8th, Uganda joins the rest of Africa and the world in celebrating International Women's Day.

International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day under the Theme; Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,' targeting economic disempowerment/ 'Inspire Inclusion, it’s important to acknowledge the progress we have made as a country.

The Constitution of Uganda Guarantees equal rights and opportunities for women and men, including the right to education, work, and political participation.

The National Policy for the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence (2010) provides a framework for addressing violence against women and girls. Women now hold 34% of parliamentary seats, exceeding the global average.

Despite progress in women's rights, economic disempowerment in Uganda continues to hinder their full potential and widen societal inequalities. The reality is stark.

Rose Keishanyu

Women globally earn considerably less than men, as reported by the World Economic Forum in their 2023 Global Gender Gap Report.

Women hold fewer leadership positions across various sectors, according to the World Bank's 2024 Women, Business and the Law report.

Rural women face other difficulties, including limited access to education, healthcare, and land ownership, as highlighted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development in their document "Transforming Food Systems for Rural Prosperity."

Visionary Approach and Women Empowerment

Achieving economic empowerment and inclusion for women requires a multifaceted approach. One example is the African Rural University (ARU) an all Women Value based University, whose hands-on, "visionary approach “empowers rural communities, particularly women, to take ownership of their future.

ARU's visionary approach treats people as subjects of development, not objects. It recognizes their valuable knowledge and empowers them to chart their course. This approach enables communities, including women, to;

• Formulate a vision: Envision a better future for themselves, their families, and communities.

• Assess their reality: Identify the gap between their current situation and their aspirations.

• Develop solutions: Take informed action to bridge the gap and achieve their vision.

Through this approach, ARU graduates, known as rural transformation specialists, are already creating positive change in over 20 Ugandan districts and refugee settlements. They have equipped over 40,851 youth with skills for dignified work, with over 21,833 transitioning to employment. This success story alone highlights the power of practical and holistic education in empowering women and men moving forward.

Sustainable Action Beyond the Day

While International Women's Day raises awareness and promotes advocacy, true progress lies in lasting change. By investing in women through education and skills development at African Rural University, we unleash the potential of women to drive positive change and contribute to a more equitable and prosperous future for all. As Nelson Mandela aptly said, "When you educate a girl child, you educate a nation.”.

Happy International Women's Day to the amazing women of Uganda!

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