SHAPING GLOBAL STANDARDS ON GENDER EQUALITY AND THE PROMOTION OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS

May 17, 2023

By Elizabeth Ampairwe.

Annually, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York for a 2-week meeting dubbed the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW). This event aims to discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is also a platform to deliberate on emerging issues that affect gender equality and the empowerment of women around the world. Under the Advancing Women’s Engagement: Strengthening Opportunities to Mobilize for
Equality (AWESOME) consortium, FOWODE joined CSW67 to amplify the contextual realities on the rights of diverse rural girls and women in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia from an intersectional feminist movement strengthening perspective.

Teamed with my colleague, Patricia Munabi, we arrived in New York on Sunday 12th March 2023 ahead of the second week having failed to raise adequate funds to attend week one of the discussion. This was my third in-person CSW and the first post-COVID-19. It was exciting to be in the apple city contributing to yet another global conversation on gender equality and the promotion of women’s and girls’ rights. CSW67 was organized under the priority theme “Innovation, technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” The review theme was “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”

Because FOWODE derives its mandate from the grassroots, on the 15th of March, 2023, we co-hosted a parallel event under the theme “Rural girls and women’s feminist movement
strengthening, experiences from southern women’s rights organizations.” During the discussion, I shared about FOWODE’s advocacy on gender-responsive budgeting and women’s leadership; and how this has influenced national action for the respect and protection of women’s rights in Uganda. Some of the landmark contributions that I highlighted were not limited to the fact that; In 1998, FOWODE pioneered gender-responsive budgeting in Uganda and the effort culminated to the enactment of the Public Finance Management Act in 2015. This Act introduced a certificate of gender and equity to mandate all key Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to integrate gender and equity in their plans and budgets.

In 2021, FOWODE commissioned a study titled ‘Budgeting for Peace’ to assess the extent to which gender and conflict are addressed in planning and budgeting, at both national and local government levels. This study revealed that Uganda loses approximately 44.5 million US dollars annually to the effects of violence in just two regions in western Uganda. Using this evidence, FOWODE has been able to stimulate discussion on budgeting for peace and further influence increased resourcing for the redress of SGBV. This has yielded an 85% increase in reporting on SGBV in Kabale and Sheema, improved community response and demand for accountability especially on case backlog among other things.

Over the last 28 years, FOWODE has replenished the pool of transformative leaders through its annual leadership camp which boasts over 20,000 alumni; the majority of whom are leveraging their platforms to advance the women’s agenda at micro and macro levels. Reflecting upon FOWODE’s gains over the years, I shared the following key lessons on strengthening the women’s movement in the rural areas of Uganda.

  •  Strategic partnerships and investment in citizen-generated data are critical steps towards leveraging technology to fortify the policy discourse on SGBV and inclusion. The data also
    powers women leaders with an evidence base for meaningful and effective participation and the performance of their legislative functions.
  • As we push for increased resourcing for SGBV to strengthen inclusive referral pathways, we need to also continuously empower women economically to diversify their choices, use
    technology to organize and enhance their decision-making power as we engage men as change agents to shift the power dynamics at the household level.
  • Advocacy for gender transformative change is a long-term process that necessitates navigating corridors of power, challenging dominant narratives and changing mindsets so
    all actors must appreciate this to inform strategy, especially on resources for this kind of advocacy.

The author is the Director of Programmes at FOWODE.

The Blog

UGANDA AT 61, TAKING CHARGE OF OUR FUTURE THROUGH GENDER EQUALITY.

By Patricia Munabi The history of Uganda has been one of turmoil, mass struggle and re-construction at many levels. Alongside a national struggle for control over a post-colonial state, women were fighting a battle to be recognized as equal and valuable participants in this space. In a rapidly changing post-Independence era, women wanted an organization that would steer collective voice ...
November 13, 2023
Read More

MORE EFFORTS NEEDED BY GOVERNMENT TO ADDRESS THE GENDER WAGE GAP IN UGANDA.

By Georgia Tumwesigye. Every September 18, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of Equal Pay. The objective of this day is to end the history of gender discrimination, a practice where women and/or persons with disabilities are paid less than their male counterparts for a similar job. According to the UN, this day indeed ...
Read More

RECLAIMING SPACE, WHY THE IMARA WOMEN’S CENTRE SHOULD INTEREST YOU

In recent years, the global community has witnessed a significant shift in recognizing the invaluable contributions of women to society. Empowering women and ensuring their rights and opportunities are upheld has become a global priority. Against this background, the Women Deliver 2023 Conference serves as a platform to convene leaders, advocates, and change-makers from around the world, sharing ideas and ...
August 22, 2023
Read More

TIMELY CALL TO CHAMPION SPACES, SOLIDARITY AND SOLUTIONS IN THE WOMEN DELIVER 2023 CONFERENCE

As one of the largest multi-sectoral convening to advance gender equality, convening 6,000 advocates onsite, and over 200,000 advocates online from diverse fields, the Women Deliver 2023 Conference has been co-created by grassroots advocates, youth, civil society, governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector, including from and representing communities facing systemic discrimination around the world. Rwanda continues to make great ...
July 21, 2023
Read More

CREATING SAFE SPACES TOWARDS A GENDER EQUAL WORLD AND AN END TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN_

Actors in gender equality generally do a great job. Imagine if there was more collaboration, prioritizing communities in these partnerships, and an evidence-based approach. Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) recognizes that fostering sisterhood and solidarity necessitates the inclusion of women and girls and commits to harnessing their collective potential. This is one of the highest forms of women’s empowerment ...
Read More

CATALYZING MODERN TECHNOLOGY TO EMPOWER THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT AND ADVANCE GENDER EQUALITY

As we prepare to dissect intersection approaches to women’s rights at the Women Deliver 2023 conference in Rwanda, Chasing the Wada Dream Documentary has been selected to film during the conference. Africa is always last in the queue for not only technological advancement but also development, investment and promotion of fundamental human rights, among others. A key priority for Women ...
Read More

SHAPING GLOBAL STANDARDS ON GENDER EQUALITY AND THE PROMOTION OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS

By Elizabeth Ampairwe. Annually, representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities gather at UN headquarters in New York for a 2-week meeting dubbed the Commission of the Status of Women (CSW). This event aims to discuss progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is also a platform ...
May 17, 2023
Read More

Imara Women’s Centre, A Stride Into The Future Of Womens Organising.

By Joan Patience Atuhaire. During the launch of the Imara Women’s Centre, Ms. Winnie Byanyima said “We have arrived.” and at this moment, my heart was full. Indeed, there was no better time to launch this initiative than on the 7th March 2022. In the early 90’s, our sisters would have never imagined such an initiative, at the time, the ...
May 30, 2022
Read More

We have a new FOWODE Brochure!

Dear Reader, Please allow us to introduce to you our company profile in a brand-new brochure! We are extremely proud to introduce to you our refreshed brochure, designed to give a concise but informative write-up about our organization’s profile, services, and motivation. Read about our programming, our model of work, and some of our initiatives.We have included details on how ...
May 25, 2022
Read More

Welcome to our New Look!

Forum for Women in Democracy is thrilled to launch its revamped website at www.fowode.org. While the old website served us well since 2020, a revamp was long overdue. As a 27-year-old organization, we are reimagining the future. The new website is  more functional and relevant. It offers a fresh and modern design, and improved site navigation to help you find ...
May 19, 2022
Read More