Transforming Gender Roles in Uganda: The Impact of AOA's Training Program

Fred (in blue) and a colleague talking about the program

For many years, AOA has consistently practiced a commitment to gender equality through strategic partnerships and dedicated capacity building initiatives. One such initiative is the gender programming training provided to partners like Wise Choices for Life (WCFL) Uganda. Today we thought we’d share a light on the profound impact of this training on individual participants and organizational practices, showcasing how AOA's strategic approach fosters lasting change in gender dynamics.

Over the past year, AOA has rolled out a multi-pronged approach to boost the gender practices of our partners. The heart of this strategy is to tackle each partner’s unique priorities, making sure the training really makes a difference. This approach includes hands-on training sessions, opportunities for cross-learning between AOA and Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) partners, and continuous technical support that's customized to what our partners need.

Personal Growth and Organizational Change: Fred’s Journey

Fred, a program manager at Wise Choices for Life Uganda, shares a compelling story of the personal and organisational transformation he's experienced thanks to AOA's training program. Before diving into the six-month training, Fred knew little about key gender concepts. However, the training changed all that. It gave him the knowledge and skills he needed to create gender-sensitive programs and get men actively involved in tackling gender inequalities.

Fred’s Key Takeaways from the Training:

  • Understanding Gender Mainstreaming: Fred learned the importance of integrating gender considerations into all aspects of program design and implementation.
  • Engaging Men: Recognising that men are often the primary offenders in gender-based violence (GBV) due to limited knowledge, Fred initiated efforts to involve men in training sessions. This approach helps bridge the gender gap and fosters mutual understanding.
  • Policy Advocacy: Fred became instrumental in informing local leaders about existing policies designed to protect women and girls from violence. This advocacy is crucial in creating a supportive environment for gender equality.

Addressing Gender-Based Violence: Policy and Practice

Uganda has several key policies and legislative measures aimed at addressing GBV, such as the Sexual Offenses Bill, the Employment Amendment Bill, and the Domestic Violence Act. Despite these policies, significant challenges remain, including the non-enactment of some laws and cultural and religious beliefs that prevent prosecution efforts. Fred's training underscored the importance of these policies and highlighted the ongoing need for advocacy and technical support to ensure their effective implementation.

Real-Life Impact: Changing Mindsets and Practices

One of the most significant outcomes of AOA's training is the real-life impact on individuals and communities. Fred shared with us the story of Daniel, a participant in at Wise Choices for Life’s reproductive health training. Before the training, Daniel held traditional views that valued husbands over wives. The training transformed his perspective, leading him to view his wife as an equal partner. This change in mindset is a powerful example of how education and awareness can challenge deep-seated cultural norms and promote gender equality.

Strengthening Organisational Commitment

AOA's training also led to strengthened organisational practices at Wise Choices for Life. The organisation now deliberately recruits more men for training on their curriculum, aiming to minimise the knowledge gap on gender issues. Additionally, Fred's enhanced understanding enabled him to contribute effectively to reviewing at Wise Choices for Life’s gender policy, ensuring it reflects the organisation's commitment to gender equality.

Future Steps: Safeguarding and Prosecution

Looking ahead, at Wise Choices for Life plans to focus on training staff in the safeguarding investigative process. This training will equip staff with the skills to identify offenders and report cases for prosecution, further strengthening the organisation's capacity to address gender based violence and protect vulnerable individuals.

AOA's approach to gender programming really shows how important building capacity is for creating meaningful and lasting change. By giving partners like at Wise Choices for Life the knowledge and tools they need to tackle gender inequalities, AOA is helping build more fair and just communities. Stories like Fred's highlight the profound impact of this work, offering a peek into the transformative power of education and partnership in promoting gender equality.