UNDP, EU empower women with multiple skills

July 5, 2024

A wide view of lake Katwe salt pans in Kasese district, west of Uganda

UNDP Uganda

Ms. Asiimwe Ritah, a gender-based violence (GBV) survivor, is a mother of two and a beneficiary of the joint European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls. She works in Lake Katwe salt mine and through the project, she has had the opportunity to sit for her Senior Four final examinations. She acquired a Uganda Certificate of Education (UACE) that would enable her to pursue her nursing career, a dream she has had since childhood. 

“Since childhood, I have wanted to be a nurse. So, I decided to take myself back to school using the 300,000 UGX fund that I injected into my mining business. I diverted all the profits from the business to pay my school fees of 470,000 UGX. I got to know about the funds from a friend, which we applied for and together with other women, we were successful,” she said.

Through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is improving the livelihoods of women just like Asiimwe in Kasese, Tororo, Amudat and Kitgum districts, through enhancing vocational skills. The women, majorly those who work in the mining sector, have been trained in enterprise management, marketing and value addition, alternative skills training, financial literacy, and GBV reporting mechanisms. 

A majority of other women have also been trained in hair dressing, tailoring, basket making and have also received business start-up kits. Further, groups received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hand tools to facilitate safe and efficient mining operations. This was intended to empower women financially and boost their economic viability, while reducing incidences of domestic violence. In addition, financial support through a revolving fund was provided to the different women groups. 

Ms. Asiimwe Ritah, beneficiary of the UN-EU Spotlight Initiative in Kasese district

UNDP Uganda

Asiimwe describes that through the project, she buys crude salt and rock salt cheaply at the site, which she then sells to neighbouring communities using public transportation. The amounts of salt she sells depends on the availability of buses traveling, with more buses travelling she can  reach a greater customer base and generate more profits. Currently her profits range between 50,000 UGX ($13.58 USD) and 70,000 UGX ($19.02 USD) per day, which money she uses to pay her school fees in small installments. 

Just like anyone else with dreams and personal ambition, Asiimwe has a dream of becoming a nurse one day. Through the skills trainings she has received from the project, she hopes to make use of her gained marketing skills backed up by a good savings culture to sell and save more so she can afford to pay for her studies at nursing school as well.

Ms. Asiimwe Ritah at her salt mine business

UNDP Uganda

Strengthening livelihoods for women and GBV survivors in mining areas is a strategy to enable prevention and realize social norm change on GBV prevalence and response. The joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative launched in 2020, was designed and piloted in four districts of Kasese, Tororo, Amudat and Kitgum that host mining activities as it was observed that women in the mining sector experience limited or no service delivery regarding GBV prevention. The hope is that through small-scale livelihood support mechanisms, many women and GBV survivors will have the opportunity to live fairly and strive to be economically independent.