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Empowering women to become community leaders in Uganda

21 November 2017

Profiles of two women, Rose and Juliet, who are leaders achieving change for their communities and holding duty bearers to account with support from Trócaire and its partners.

From the right: Oucul Stephen, Okurut Stanslus, Juliet Okoche, Akiror Grace and Otingole Ismail during the monitoring visit by UDN and Trócaire. Photo by: Mirembe Victoria Mutumba.

Community leader Juliet Okoche (centre) with Stephen Oucul, Stanslus Okurut, Grace Akiror and Ismail Otingole during the monitoring visit by Uganda Debt Network and Trócaire. Photo by: Mirembe Victoria Mutumba.

“I used to be timid and unable to address so many people, but now everyone listens to me when I stand up to speak.”

Fifty-two year old mother of five, Juliet Okoche, the chair of the Bukedea Poverty Monitoring Association (BUPOMA) never imagined that she would ever hold a position that commands such respect and responsibility.

With support from Trócaire partner the Uganda Debt Network (UDN), Juliet and her colleagues at BUPOMA have developed skills in community monitoring of government programmes, social accountability, budget literacy and natural resource rights among other areas.  

This has helped Juliet to lead BUPOMA in their endeavours to hold the duty bearers accountable to the community. This includes things like monitoring the construction a new road within Kolir and Kidongole sub-counties, which has been besieged with problems, both bureaucratic and technical. 

Juliet and her team are determined to see that the local government and the state support her community to lead productive lives all the while enjoying the standard social services.

Rose's journey

Rose Ojok lives in Amolel village, Adekowok Sub-county in Lira district. 

Rose was orphaned at age nine after the untimely death of her father, and married her husband when she was still a teenager. Like other girls her age at the time, Rose could not access formal education and the rigours of adult life quickly consumed her life.

Now 43, Rose has recently been able to gain literacy skills, and become a leader in her community.

Rose Ojok making a presentation on behalf of the local school Parent Teacher Association.

Rose Ojok making a presentation on behalf of the local school Parent Teacher Association. Photo: Julie Ebil.

As a member of the Canberimwolo Citizenship Club, Rose and her colleagues started up a community-based monitoring group. Their mandate was to hold the duty bearers within the community accountable to the citizens who had voted them into office. 

Together with her team, Rose managed to uncover a case of mismanagement of funds by the head teacher at the local primary school. He was subsequently made to refund the money and demoted. 

Further to this they also petitioned the office of the Resident District Commissioner of Lira to investigate other abuses of public resources they identified, including misappropriation of a youth livelihood fund. 

These endeavours attracted the attention of the district leaders, and today Rose is a member of the sub-county area land committee. 

She says her life will never be the same thanks to to the Trócaire-supported Canberimwolo Citizenship Club that empowered her and equipped her with the skillset that she now uses in her day-to-day monitoring.