Greetings from the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE).
As we bid farewell to 2016 and usher in 2017, we at FOWODE would like to thank each and every one of you immensely for your support. We concluded the year riding high on our remarkable achievements. The major highlight of the year was our 21st birthday which we used to celebrate our phenomenal journey of defying barriers, shattering glass ceilings, navigating the corridors of power, breaking new ground and re-imagining the future. I would like to share with you some of our outstanding achievements over the years:
FOWODE started her work during the Constituent Assembly (1994-1995) when she led women and introduced landmark gender sensitive provisions in the Constitution. Her work resulted into the birth of one of the most gender sensitive Constitutions in the world. The Constitution opened the way for thousands of women to have a public voice at both the national and local levels through affirmative action that was entrenched in the Constitution and subsequently in the Local Government Act. Working with women across the political spectrum, to date we have trained over 20,000 women leaders who have made a mark in leadership both at the national level and the local level.
The seminal work of mentoring young women and men in alternative and transformative leadership that we begun in 2004 has contributed to increased youth participation in governance. To date we have built a cadre of 511 young women and men who espouse our values of respect for women’s rights, tolerance, respect for diversity, gender equality and equity. The young leaders are doing amazing work challenging the status quo so as to transform their communities and the varied institutions they are part of, educating citizens about women and girls rights, empowering and inspiring young girls to reach their full potential and implementing economic empowerment projects in their communities.
In 1999, we begun our gender budget work. We are proud to have contributed to the reform of the budget process and to have introduced in it gender budgeting principles and approaches. As a result of our consistent and strategic engagement with a range of stakeholders in the executive, legislative and technical arms, the government adopted gender and equity budgeting and Uganda is the first country in the world to have a requirement of a Certificate of Gender and Equity for all sectors prior to budget approval in law.
In 2008, having worked with bureaucrats on gender budgeting and strengthening the “supply” side, the organization decided to strategically focus on the “demand” side. Since then, rigorously and consistently we have built an active and informed constituency across 14 districts, able to use the power of their numbers to hold governments and decision makers accountable for ensuring equitable distribution of resources. To date we have worked with close to 3,000 women and men that are at the forefront of driving their own change in their communities and demanding accountability. Through our work, we have shifted power to the communities and demonstrated that once citizens are empowered, corruption is harder to sustain, service delivery improves and there is enhanced accountability.
Over the years, we have continued to be a part of the gender equality equation in the country by ensuring the amplification of women’s voices in the governance, political and macroeconomic discourse. We consider it vital to make a connection between the work we do on gender equality and women’s empowerment and the democracy and governance environment in which we operate and thus continually make a mark within human rights organizing.
We are glad that over the past 21 years we have been able to make a clear footprint within the gender equality, women’s empowerment and democracy and governance arenas. As we look to the future, we know that a lot more needs to be done to transform the lives of women. We will remain steadfast in our endeavor to make a contribution to ensuring that all women are free.
I would like to thank each and every one of you for having been a part of our journey and for contributing to our success. We will continue to count on you, our friends and partners, for your support, counsel and partnership so that together we can “shape the future” in the next phase of our life.
I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year.
Patricia Munabi Babiiha