Perceived contributions of economic empowerment programs in addressing gender based violence: a study of Luwero District
Ekigula, Ruth Comfort
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The rate of Gender based violence increased during the COVID-19 pandemic mostly in households due to lack of meaningful employment. Poverty is one of the major causes of gender-based violence in Uganda but also fuelled by so many other factors like ignorance of the law, social norms that support male dominancy. This qualitative study explored the perceived contribution of economic empowerment programmes in addressing GBV. The study conducted face to face in-depth interviews with seven individual women in business, organised groups and stay home mothers, five key informants and three organisations. The study revealed that women who experience gender-based violence suffer physical harm like wounds, burns and some even end up losing lives. It also revealed that women who experience gender-based violence experience stigma from community members, destruction of property, and separation of family members. The study revealed that economic empowerment programmes have contributed a lot in addressing gender-based violence in Kamira Sub County. They are designed in a way that they are inclusive of both men and women, people with disability and those who are able. The study revealed that in order for economic empowerment programmes to address GBV, organisations incorporated activities like community dialogues, community sensitisation, GBV trainings on the rights and laws to create awareness among the beneficiaries of the programmes. The study revealed that economic empowerment programmes have created awareness on GBV and women who are empowered economically are able to report cases of GBV. The study also revealed formation of groups with a binding component where women get to learn, discuss and find solutions for issues in relation to GBV for example in VSLAs, farming groups, and burial associations. The study revealed that women who are economically empowered are able to contribute towards the incomes of the family to avoid over dependence on male partners. However, despite the fact that there are economic empowerment programmes in Kamira Sub County, they have not fully solved the issue of gender-based violence because most of them are only targeting the women and leaving out men who are the perpetrators of violence. The study also revealed that to a minimal extent women economic empowerment escalates GBV. Government and NGOs are still working in disconnect and need to work together, network and act upon issues collectively. I recommend that government and NGOs put in place interventions that will incorporate solutions to all the causes of GBV into economic programmes.