“I used to work hard in the garden to grow food but at harvest my husband would sell all the produce and take the money to his other wives” Roselyn narrates. A mother of six children, Roselyn was living an unhappy life until she joined LIPAWA, a volunteer community pressure group in Agago district. This group of local women formed to track social service delivery in post-conflict Northern Uganda to make sure women benefitted from government programmes. Over time, LIPAWA received training from Isis-WICCE to understand women rights, planning processes, budgeting, gender, livelihood enhancement and such.
For Roselyn, learning about budgeting and gender roles challenged her way of thinking and perspective on life. She confesses that at the time, she was overwhelmed by the domestic work load and abuse that went along with it. Roselyn was earning nothing and her children were not going to school. ‘I thought through the whole journey of my life and I was determined to educate my children’, she recounts
In 2010, Roselyn started a small restaurant baking pancakes for schools to earn some income. “Whatever money I made my husband would take it because he didn’t approve of my determination to take the girls to school. To him, it is a waste of money”, Roselyn said. Her husband continued to mistreat her and her children. One day she took a bold decision and walked away from her husband to start a new life.
“My restaurant has grown and I took my children back to school. I have also bought 3 acres of land and 10 cows” Roselyn now declares. She has also been able to pay the high hepatitis B immunization fee for herself and her children.
In 2015 the district called for someone to manage the sub-county maize mill. Roselyn applied and her bid was successful but when she was given the contract to sign, she realized that what was written differed from the initial agreement. As a pressure group member who had been monitoring service delivery, she queried the sub county leaders but did not get clear answers. Roselyn and her fellow pressure group members are now determined to get to the bottom of the issue to ensure other women in Agago are not sold short during implementation of post-conflict programmes that should include them
“I am now happy with the decisions I made about my life and I feel I am making a contribution to my community and the country at large” Roselyn remarks. Her example demonstrates how with the right knowledge and skills, women can take charge of their lives and make change happen in society.