Arokwo women are breaking barriers in construction
Article by Anne Birungi Kikundwa
Gender equality is paramount to having a more prosperous and vibrant world. However, girls and women across the globe still face remarkable challenges. Women continuously face barriers that affect their opportunities, including being underrepresented in power and decision-making roles.
In many of our communities in Uganda, girls and women are often seen as less valuable than boys. Instead of pursuing higher levels of education, they are often made to do domestic work at home or are married off at a young age.
To help address such challenges, AidEnvironment has prioritized investing in women to enable them to access sustainable livelihoods. One group being empowered by these efforts is the Arokwo women’s group in Kapchorwa. They have developed water tank construction skills which has allowed them to improve the health and social development of their families, and the community. The Arokwo Growers’ Association is a women-led farmer group that started operations in 2003. They were driven by the need to fight poverty and food insecurity among the members and within their community. Initially, the main aim of forming the group was to boost savings and make loans available to members, in addition to their farming activities. These initial activities included planting bananas, coffee, and dairy farming.
In 2019, the Arokwo Growers’ Association was introduced to the Green Future Farming. Members were introduced to different trainings that included soil and water conservation, regenerative agriculture approaches and practices, and coffee value chain activities. As engagements continued, there was a need to introduce rainwater harvesting for coffee processing and household use. The concept of rainwater harvesting was popularized among the women and youth, and was coupled with several training sessions as a refresher for their construction skills. This capacity building enabled AidEnvironment to engage them in leading the tank construction for other farmers in the Sebei sub region. Since then, they have been able to construct 15 quality tanks in Kapchorwa, Kween, and Bukwo districts.
Empowered women thrive
We celebrate the impact we have seen in the lives of empowered women. They are able to live safe, fulfilled, and productive lives, and reach their full potential.
For the Arokwo women, we noticed that the masonry skills they have developed, have broken social barriers and raised their incomes. They can now contribute to their children’s education through the provision of school fees and other scholastic materials. They also share that their improved social standing as a result of these skills have opened up doors for more opportunities.
Arokwo women’s participation in construction has broken the belief that construction is a man’s job. They proudly showcase their skills and abilities because it is the first project in the area that highlights women’s contributions.
The contributions of the Arokwo women exemplify the agency of women and show that women can do anything. Arokwo women call upon all women to always be flexible and learn new skills. “It takes determination and focus for a woman to engage in construction.” Another member shares, “From the time I got the skill of constructing rainwater harvesting (RWH) tanks, people now call me an engineer and yet I have never attained any formal certificate in engineering.
Branching out into new spaces unlocks more skill and opportunity and these women are proof of that. We celebrate women who break barriers and we know that exposure and introduction to different activities will allow them to shine brighter and contribute even more to their community’s development.