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Dispatch From the Field: Starting With Women in Uganda

For the past six months, Resource Equity has been working with our partner Associates Research Trust to implement our Starting With Women approach with subsistence mining associations in Karamoja, Uganda. Karamoja is the poorest region in Uganda and has a history of armed conflict, which largely ended in 2011. Although traditionally pastoralist, a large percentage of people, both women and men, are now engaged in small-scale mining. This mining is largely managed outside of the formal system, and underlying rights to land are often unclear or are managed by the customary land tenure system.

The Starting With Women approach ensures that women’s needs and desires are the drivers of a project throughout its life. It begins by talking with women and their communities about the rights they currently have to land and resources, and then working with them to strengthen and secure those rights. We targeted three mining groups in one district in the region, and worked with them to co-create a six-month curriculum. This included sessions on how the government functions; on the Constitution, mining laws, land laws, and environmental laws; on women’s land rights; on public speaking; and on livelihoods and financial management. We included functional literacy training throughout the training, and provided compensation for their time in the form of maize flour and beans.

Beneficiaries saw many benefits from the training. One said that she now knows “that land on which mining is done belongs to us and the investor should be compensating us for mining on our land.”

All three mining groups graduated from the program in May, at three different ceremonies attended by local government officials and representatives from Associates Research Trust – Uganda and Resource Equity. The graduations involved the graduates’ families, and included performances by the groups.

We are currently conducting an endline study and will share those results. The midline showed promising results, including increased literacy which allows group members to understand how much they earn, reduced domestic violence, and increased knowledge of the importance of women’s rights.

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