Authored by Sarah Pacutho | On: Fri, 12/05/2014 - 16:56

Women in different historical and cultural contexts have found it easier to become active at local level through community organizations, self-help groups, traders’ association, faith-based organizations, mothers’ Union groups, name it.

Evidence suggests that women who attain leadership roles in NGOs have had to develop specific coping strategies to deal with the cultural and social pressures they face. In some instances there is evidence that female leaders bring a mix of skills learnt in the home while sometimes they are forced to adapt to “paternalistic” leadership style.

In a bid to equip women with strategic leadership skills for their organisations, UNNGOF in partnership with NAWOU, set out to enable women in Bushenyi unlearn their traditional mindsets and used women leaders, who withstood tests of time, to inspire and build their hopes towards leadership.

This was emphasized by Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga who encouraged the women with expository remarks about the programme. “We chose each one of you because you are not just rural women but rather leaders.”

Bushenyi opened up the Fellowship that is planned to happen in 10 regions, as statistically divided by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). UNNGOF will reach out through her 34 district partners and other women organisations such as FOWODE, FAWE and Uganda Women’s Network. The fellowship is a build up to the National Convention scheduled for next year, which wants to target of 500 women.

Western Ankole Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (WACSOF) brought together over 40 women leaders from different CSOs who were eager to learn and take home all the hope, inspiration and courage, so that they share with their colleagues on lessons learned. The listened intently, followed closely to every word said.

The attention in the room beckoned an audience eager to pick every message and if possible read lips of presenters. To this, the fellowship was presented with Hon Aidah Mehangye as the inspirational speaker. Using a mix of both English and Runyankole, she moved the women to the edge, out of their comfort zones, “Take charge, if you don’t dress the part, you can never get the position.”

She encouraged the women on various aspects from outlook, to professional etiquette and firmness in leadership. She also pointed out that the women need to embrace consistent communication and always handle critical decisions in the right fora.

The women encouraged each other to remain firm in decision making, stick to their guns and never to falter for decisions made in their women gatherings. They appreciated the importance of mentoring and vowed to share lessons with all they had left behind at their respective organisations.

“We believe there is need to work harder, engage teamwork in what we do, appreciate each other's efforts in order to grow and build one another as fellow women.” Like Proverbs says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another”, let us be that friend.