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ACFODE's Gender Equality Training Empowers Cooperatives for Growth.

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In a bid to advance gender-inclusive programming and service delivery among member-based organizations, ACFODE,under her transformative project titled “Empowered to Act: Enhancing Gender Inclusive Programming and Service Delivery among Member-based Organisations." has enhanced the capacity of cooperatives in promoting gender equality and women’s rights for inclusive sustainable development.

Under this project, ACFODE plays a dual strategic and technical role, providing support to three core partners of We Effect. These partners include Mt. Elgon Agroforestry Communities Cooperative Enterprises Limited (MEACCE) in Mbale, Bushika Integrated Area Cooperative Enterprises Limited in Bududa, and Busoga Growers Cooperatives Union Limited (BGCUL) in Jinja.

To achieve this, she has recently carried out an advocacy training that was informed by a gender audit conducted in 2023, which identified significant gender gaps and offered recommendations. Recognizing the importance of effective engagement at both district and national levels, ACFODE and partners deemed advocacy training imperative. Aligned with We Effect’s Global Advocacy Strategy 2020–2022 and the Programme Strategy “Stronger Together” 2023–2027, the training prioritizes the right to food, focusing on gender equality, environment and climate, civic space, financial inclusion, and housing.

The advocacy training enhanced participants’ understanding of advocacy and its relevance to cooperatives, as well as deepening their comprehension of the its process. Through participatory methods such as presentations, discussions, group work, and role plays, participants engaged in identifying local advocacy issues that shall inform future advocacy efforts at both district and national levels.

One of the participants asserted the challenges women face for failing to own land which is fundamental for crop production in these cooperatives.

"In our society, less than 25% of women own land. Women are forbidden to own or buy land because society will assume that they stole the money. Some women even think that it's men who should buy land; women sign as witnesses" - a female participant from Busoga Growers Cooperative Union.

However, by the end of the training that aimed to empower farmer representatives, trainers of trainers (TOTs), and key project staff. Priority was given to influential representatives capable of identifying and advocating for issues pertinent to different duty-bearers at district and national levels.

ACFODE and partners were able to yield tangible outcomes, including the identification of advocacy issues and the development of draft action plans by the partners, equipping cooperatives with advocacy skills and knowledge.

According to one of the leaders during the training, Mr. Abner Sherdrach highlighted that easing access to financial resources helps address some challenges.

When we address the issue of limited access to financial services and weak leadership, we shall see an improvement in the quality of our products. Contract financing is one of the strategies to address the issue of limited access to financial services" - Abner Sherdrach, General Manager, Bushika Integrated Area Cooperative Enterprise.

With this said and done ACFODE, anticipates fostering a more conducive environment for gender equality, sustainable development, and the realization of rights for marginalized groups.