Empowering Rural Women and Girls: Opportunities And Challenges

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Nakiyemba Rashida dropped out of school in P.4 due to a lot of teasing and mockery from students over her intellectual disability. At 36 years old with 5 kids, Rashida admitted to using Family Planning with the Pill being her choice of protection after suffering adverse effects from injectables and the Implant. Despite being on the Pill, Rashida wishes to have her tubes tied. The bad experience during the birth of her last born and the lack of financial support from the father of her children informed her decision to have her tubes tied.

Economically, Rashida is doing quite well. She has a constant supply of customers in the children from neighboring schools that she sells avocado to. The steady flow of business has enabled her pay school fees for her children; as well as look after them medically. The support from her parents cannot go without mention. They built her a house in which she and her children live and when times get hard, financially, her mother steps in to support her.

Ms. Nakiyemba Rashida (epileptic) with her four children

Babirye Mariam discovered the importance of Family Planning to Girls and Women with Disabilities like herself through the training on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights by NUWODU. She revealed that, Girls and Women with Disabilities produce a lot of kids yet are unable to cater for them due to financial constraints. Being on Family Planning is not only beneficial to them personally but economically too since unchecked multiple births tend to weaken the body thus making it hard to carry out income generating activities for sustainability.

A single mother of 3 kids at 28 years, Babirye mentioned that the trainings provided more knowledge on sustainability, rights awareness and economic empowerment than just Family Planning. They ended up the forming a savings group that has seen to the financial independence of Girls and Women with Disabilities and provided emotional support in times of need.

Babirye learnt to stand up for herself and found the courage to approach the father of her children for financial support. Now, he lives up to his obligations and Babirye couldn’t be any happier because it has given her freedom to lay an enabling environment for the growth and development of her children.

Ms. Babirye Mariam breastfeeding her daughter during the interview

Sarah is a 28 year old single mother of 3 kids suffering from epilepsy. The father of her kids used to mock her for her disability forcing her to gather her kids and leave. Left with no choice but to support her kids while at her mother’s, Sarah started up a salon business to help with the financial needs of her family.

It was through this business that she heard about the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights training held by NUWODU and attended out of curiosity. From there; she learnt about disability, Family Planning, Economic empowerment and the saying that ‘disability is not inability’.

Sarah said that the teachings on Family Planning saved them from using local herbs as Girls and Women with Disabilities. She later chose to use the implant as a method and has never looked back for 6 years.

As a woman that had 3 kids in a space of 3 years, Sarah said being on the implant gave her a new lease on life, the determination to work hard and provide for her children. Her involvement in the training led to the discovery of Savings groups and as a business owner, she has been able to acquire loans for her salon to expand.

Ms. Nalusiba Sarah (epileptic) teaching students at her salon.

A partially blind woman with 4 kids, Namatovu Jane lives the saying, ‘disability is not inability’ because she has been able to sustain a pancake frying business despite her disability.

At 40 years of age; Jane was appreciative of the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights trainings for they taught her that a disabled person is no different from an able-bodied person. She got to learn more about Family Planning and protection, the creation of a savings group and culture, knowledge on economic empowerment as well as rights awareness through the trainings. These enabled her in the decision making when it came to having kids. The power of choice over when to have kids or not is one she most grateful for because without Family Planning, she may not have been in position to cater for all her 4 kids.

Ms. Namatovu Jane preparing pancakes for her evening customers

Disclaimer: All photos used are under consent from the Girls and Women with Disabilities.