Grandmothers and Women’s Programs
Women are placed into small co-ops with other community-based women who are trained in agricultural practices by their team leaders from model farms. Each co-op member is given beans, corn or peanut seeds and the money to cover land-clearing labour costs, plus one female pig or goat. The women participate in group training and meet regularly and it is through these gatherings where women learn from others, encourage and support each other, and develop solutions together as a team.
Women’s life skills include knitting, sewing, African carpet-weaving (Mukeeka), basket-weaving, tablecloth-making, and hair-dressing skills. Many girls in the villages in which CACI operates do not have the opportunity to attend school, and often other circumstances such as unplanned early pregnancies conspire against them acquiring an education. Today there remain many villages in Uganda where not one girl has graduated beyond the grade seven level due to being either an orphan or lack of school fees.
If they stay in their village, women can expect to earn or produce the equivalent of $50 per year or less. Frequently there are no job opportunities for women unless they move to cities or larger centres. Even then, typical work involves carrying heavy loads, and we have witnessed women that have been abused by their employers.
Most Ugandan women marry young and it is rare to find a woman who has given birth to fewer than four children; on average, each woman will have between five and eight children. Having so many children can put a severe strain on their health, and if one or both parents die from HIV/AIDS, grandmothers frequently shoulder the responsibility to care for the children. Our women’s programs are designed to give these vulnerable women the ability to support productive farms, learn life skills to increases their income-earning potential, and to become respected and supportive members of their communities.