Putting women and girls in the driving seat in Uganda


‘It has made a difference as you are part of a relationship based on sharing and listening to one another.’

Joy Kawanguzi is Project Coordinator at FABIO (First African Bicycle Information Organisation), the NGO using bicycles as a tool of social transformation for improving the livelihoods of the vulnerable communities they serve – enhancing their access to basic services.

Joy is a Development Practitioner and Project Specialist, who is very passionate about people most impacted by poverty, particularly youth, which drives her projects to mentor young people.

During the All We Can Walking Together in Partnership Conference 2022 in Malawi, below, Joy spoke to us about the importance of doing community work from a gender lens perspective, how partnership strengthens the empowerment of women and girls, and the transformative nature of leadership.

According to the World Bank, in Uganda, women and girls are disproportionately disadvantaged in comparison to men and boys. For example, they are more likely to drop out of school before completing secondary education in comparison to their male counterparts, leaving them with knowledge and access gaps if, and when, they join the labour market.

Joy Kawanguzi speaks as part of a session on Leadership at All We Can’s Partner Conference 2022 in Malawi.

FABIO works to close this gap by offering a mobility solution to women and girls, where they have transport to attend school and to help them efficiently complete the household tasks that they are often privy to. Joy commented, ‘we sometimes work with communities that don’t believe that women can lead, or view women as assets or belongings and don’t give them a voice. Partnership and leadership training allows women to be empowered and allows them to be in the driving seat of their own futures.’

She identified that partnering with All We Can has solidified the importance of partnership in addressing the challenges experienced by women and girls in their communities – ‘it has made a difference as you are part of a relationship based on sharing and listening to one another.’

All We Can’s flagship Walking Together in Partnership Conference has convened local community organisations like FABIO and other key partners to emphasise the need for their communities to be in the driving seat of the change they want to see.

Joy reflected on how learning in leadership is important to drive this change. For any relationship and partnership to thrive, there must be mutual learning, and she finds that true leadership is about encompassing the needs of everyone in your team, it is about serving others, and working together.

‘Going through the Leadership training provided was life changing in this respect. It was like salvation to me. You start seeing things in a different way. It was understanding that everyone has a role to play in transforming our organisation. The course completely transformed my mindset as a leader and helped me to listen more and be open.’

Overall, Joy feels that looking at the partnership with All We Can from a gender lens perspective has given the organisation a further platform to expand as a women-led NGO. She said that it has helped them grow by offering support and taking the time to learn their needs. ‘If partners don’t believe you, it makes it difficult to create impactful change within the communities that we serve – that’s what is most special about our partnership with All We Can.’

When asked to define partnership in a few words, Joy stated – ‘it is a relationship between two people, two organisations, two bodies. A mutual understanding on our aims and goals.’

[This blog was written and published by Malusa Kilonda, the incoming Head of Communications & Advocacy at All We Can]

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