“What stood out for me is that, when I look at the media, people are worried about equality majorly but, some women in communities are worried about sexual harassment”

Sarah Basemera, Founder and CEO, Raising Gabdho Foundation.

It is worth noting that this is still indeed our month – women!

As RGF, we opted to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 with a community organization; Sudanese Women for Peace and Development (SWPD). The association has a membership of 200 community women leaders working to support each other on various fronts.

Synonymous with the theme for the day, we chose to challenge ourselves to discovering what women should be challenging/overcoming, this year. In this day long design-thinking process, our priority was centered on establishing the customized key challenges that our Ugandan women should be overcoming amidst the international outcry to “choose to challenge”. The discussion also delved deeper into what could be fueling these barriers, how they can be overcome and what our input could be

After an initial session of probing each woman that was present, we mapped out four distinguished barriers; sexual harassment, segregation, unpaid care work and poverty.

Sexual harassment stood out strong as a major limitation for many women despite major media attention to other challenges like gender inequality, unemployment et cetera. One of the discussants urged us to give this challenge much more attention through a programme aimed at combatting the vice, in partnership with SWPD. Segregation and unpaid care work also proved key limitations. It is indeed worth noting that so many workplaces still encourage this vice through earmarked tasks and spaces for men only. This should be discouraged in this time and era.

Also, a very ‘untalked-about’ challenge was wrapped in time killed and buried in the easily-over-looked unpaid care work. Simple things like the woman should prepare breakfast or lay the bed giving the man more time to prepare for their day’s work. A report by the International Labor Organisation (ILO) indicates that 16.4 billion hours per day are spent in unpaid care work – the equivalent to 2 billion people working eight hours per day with no remuneration (International Labor Organisation: https://bit.ly/3t6JTme). The same report shows that globally, women perform 76.2 per cent of total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men. The challenge lies in the fact that unpaid carers, majorly women, then face a “job quality penalty”.

The need to educate women proved pivotal as a solution to most of these challenges, including poverty. The assertion being that through knowledge and information, women would for example know what to do or where to go in case of sexual harassment, segregation and unpaid care work. Education would also pave way for better skills for women necessary to combat poverty through employment, job creation and entrepreneurship.

It is a very good thing to have a day and month dedicated to women and, as we closed the day, it was clear at the back of our minds that these are challenges that you and I have to raise our hands against and vow to overcome. We should all place a coherent attachment or commitment towards overcoming these challenges for ourselves, our daughters, our mothers, sisters and the generations to come. That should be our challenge! Choose to challenge yourself to joining us overcome these challenges.