The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) is working to expand its efforts to mobilise grassroots women from mid-western parts of Uganda to the central region districts where wide empowerment gaps have been identified.
According to Ms Precious Naturinda, the Field Mobiliser for Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts at NAPE, the central objective of this move is to promote women solidarity in the face of socio-economic and environmental injustices.
“Expanding the Rural Women’s Movement to the central region of Uganda will help to have a collective voice to defend their rights,” she says.
NAPE has been at the forefront of mobilising and supporting grassroots women to face the growing challenge of Gender Based Violence (GBV) that makes women more vulnerable to energy poverty and climate injustices in the oil-rich Albertine Graben of Uganda since 2018.
It says most affected have been dwellers in Hoima, Buliisa, Nwoya and Kikuube districts that host major oil projects and the associated developments that have attracted a population boom due to investment and employment opportunities.
Ms Naturinda says in reaction to human rights violations associated with economic development, NAPE has deepened grass root women advocacy in oil host communities in mid-western Uganda.
The goal is to combat injustices that include land grabbing and unfair and inadequate compensation.
She adds that NAPE intends to mobilise more than 5,000 women by the end of 2026 and 15,000 by end of 2027 in eight districts to be traversed by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
“The journey starts now with a target to at least identifying 50 grass root women activists, informal groups and local leaders with about 600 members comprised of women, girls and male comrades by the end of 2024,” Ms Naturinda says.
Adding: “We shall also build their knowledge of feminist analysis, values, approaches and the integration of contextual feminist knowledge.”
Ms Lucy Mbuubi, one of the rural women activists of the movement from Kikuube district, says movements have empowered her to know her land rights.
“Some empowered women affected by EACOP and the construction of the Kabaale-Kiziranfumbi Road were able to challenge compensation related injustices and had their issues addressed. For instance, husbands who never wanted to involve them during signing of compensation agreements. They were involved, which was a positive move compared to the past when women would watch,” she says.
Mr Rajab Bwengye, the Head of Programmes at NAPE, says women in the central region districts including Kiboga and Kyankwanzi equally need sensitisation since they are also affected by the oil projects.
Mr Frank Muramuzi, the NAPE Executive Director, says they will continue using different approaches including community sensitisation on their rights and taking or supporting legal action against oil sector players identified to violate human rights of Ugandans.
The struggle for land is deeply intertwined with women’s rights.
Reports show that women make 76% of Uganda’s agricultural labour force and are more dependent on land for their livelihood.