Author: Reem Akl
Can you provide a brief introduction about yourself and your role at Rukungiri Women Integrated Development (RWIDF)?
My name is Vivian Ninsiima, and I’m a Gender and Advocacy Manager at Rukungiri Women Integrated Development Foundation (RWIDF). At RWIDF, we aim to enhance and transform the marginalized lives of women and girls, youth and adults. As the Gender and Advocacy Manager, I play a key role in ensuring that the organization's programs and activities are aligned with its mission and goals, and that we effectively address the needs and rights of women and girls in the communities where we operate. I also work on raising awareness and advocating for gender equality and women's rights, both within the organization and in the communities it serves.
What is the overall goal of RWIDF and what are the main issues that you aim to address?
The major aim of RWIDF is to enhance and transform marginalized women and girls, youth, and adults through transforming their lives. This includes empowering them economically, socially, and politically, and addressing the root causes of poverty and gender-based violence in their communities. When RWIDF was first started in 2002, there were a lot of issues of early marriages and domestic violence in their different communities. To address these issues, RWIDF implemented massive awareness campaigns, as well as programs and projects that aimed to improve the economic life of women and girls, so that they could be less dependent on men. This included starting up village savings and loans associations, which have helped women start their own income-generating activities.
How has RWIDF been able to empower women within their communities?
RWIDF has been able to empower women in their communities through a variety of programs and initiatives. One of the main ways we have empowered women is by providing them with access to financial resources through village savings and loans associations. These associations have helped women start their own small businesses and income-generating activities, which in turn has helped them become more financially independent. Additionally, we have worked extensively on educating women and girls about their rights, and have provided them with support and resources to report cases of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. Through these efforts, over 30,000 women have been empowered.
How does RWIDF involve men in their efforts to address domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence?
We recognize that fighting against domestic violence is not a women's issue alone, and therefore we always ensure that we involve men in our efforts. We use the Male Engage Approach, which targets perpetrators in the society, trains and sensitizes them, mentors them to be good role models and pass this on to other families. Through this approach, RWIDF has trained about 1,000 role model men. We also involve local leaders in the creation of bylaws against issues such as early marriages, teenage pregnancies, and have also improved the judicial sector. We ensure men participate during inquiries at Community level.
What are RWIDF's plans for the future, and how do you hope to expand your work with the help of the award?
Our future plan includes continuing the same efforts to create campaigns against domestic violence. We aim to expand our reach to other sub-counties where we have not been able to strongly build our protection systems. Additionally, we hope to build on the savings and loan associations that we have created and to expand the number of women and girls who are able to start income-generating activities. We also intend to continue working closely with other stakeholders at both the grassroots level and the district level. The Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa Award for Women’s Empowerment is expected to help us achieve these goals by enabling us to providing our partners with the resources and visibility they need to expand their impact.