Uganda is a male dominated society, and although social and cultural norms have made great strides for women’s rights, the country is still transitioning into a society with equal rights for all. Sseko exists to empower women in Uganda, by providing them with jobs, and teaching them to be confident in themselves as capable women and members of society.
In Ugandan history, and still prevalent in some rural areas today, the belief was widespread that men are superior to women and are entitled to exercise their power over them. The woman’s job is to stay at home, cooking, cleaning, looking after the children and cultivating the land. While the women cook the meals, men over the age of 12 are not even allowed in the kitchen or cook house. Up until the 1980’s it was common custom for a woman to kneel when talking to a man. Girls in rural Ugandan villages still marry at a very young age, and are expected to leave their own family and transplant their lives to their husband’s village.
Sharon, one of our hard working and responsible Sseko employees comments on the inequitable treatment between genders. “In the past, they used to treat women as slaves. Only men were permitted to eat meat, while the women had to eat nuts and were not allowed to work. The women had to stay at home. Women were crying in their marriages because they lacked a lot. The men were not providing for all their needs. Even if a woman was dealing with a terrible situation, she had to stay at home. My friends and family don’t encourage me to work. They say I am still young. But I have forced myself to work to provide for my family, otherwise we will have nothing. I am the sole provider for my family.”
While women suffered greatly under the violent rule of Idi Amin, efforts have been made since Musevini took power to improve women’s rights. Ugandan women have an astounding role model in Rebecca Kadaga, a strong woman passionate about her country and her beliefs, as well as the first female appointed to be the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda. In the larger cities, women are taking advantage of the changing times and you can find them pursuing education and careers. Teopista, a university educated mother of one and dedicated Sseko employee says, “I am very glad that it is changing for women. Women are really on top these days. They used to think that women could only be at home, and in the kitchen, but now you see women in offices and working for businesses.” Vicky, a talented designer and one of Sseko’s team leaders, agrees with Teopista. “I think that for sure these days ladies are so wise and can find a job. If they are very hard working, they can do anything.”
Sseko is thrilled to be a part of enabling a new generation of Ugandan women to rise to great challenges and fight for equality. By supporting Sseko, you’re allowing us to provide opportunities for women in East Africa to end poverty, pursue an education and build a more equitable society.