Women for Women International

Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies.
Dec 11, 2013

Why We Work in South Sudan

In our project updates we have shared with you the story of many women who are going through our training program in hopes of gaining skills to help them build better lives for themselves, their families and their communities. Now we want to share with you the story of why we began working in South Sudan, the challenges our program participants face and the impact we hope to have through our programs.

Women for Women International launched operations in South Sudan in 2005, before there was even an official South Sudan. Then the area was part of the country of Sudan. It is an area almost entirely without basic infrastructure, such as roads, health facilities or schools. It is expected that the war here displaced up to two million people. Women for Women International sent an assessment team to Sudan in July 2005 to evaluate the feasibility of helping the country's socially excluded women rebuild their lives, families and communities after conflict. What began as a two-week trip has turned into a long-term commitment to working in South Sudan. We witnessed Sudan's harsh realities firsthand. We found a vast country with a tangled and complex history of conflict that you can see on the faces of the women we serve. 

During the 22-year-long civil war plauging the country:

- 4 million people have fled their homes

- 2 million people have died

Women and children in particular have felt the effects of war:

- 2 million women have been raped

- 1 in 7 women in South Sudan will die in childbirth

- 1 in 10 babies will die before their first birthday

We conducted extensive interviews with women at the grassroots level and met with representatives from the government and community based organizations (CBOs). We confirmed reports that women are bearing the brunt of the horror, suffering through unthinkable acts of gender-based violence and sexual slavery, trying to manage survival for them and their families in what were often subhuman living conditions. Amid the horror stories, we also found hope. We discovered a strong civil society and an organized women’s movement with clear optimism for the future of Sudan and keen insight into what is needed to make those hopes a reality. If the international community plans to assist with the country’s reconstruction in any meaningful way, it must seek the wisdom and counsel of Sudanese women.

Issues and Needs Identified by Sudanese Women

The following issues are those most frequently mentioned by the women we interviewed as being critical to the country’s future: income generation and employment opportunities for women; girls’ education and illiteracy among women; access to resources, including water, electricity, housing and jobs; customary and family laws regarding early marriage, wife inheritance, ghost marriage and criminal ramifications of adultery, polygamy and divorce rights; gender-based violence; and women’s health, including HIV/AIDS, female genital cutting, reproductive health and maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.

We spoke with Sudanese women’s organizations that are deeply committed to these issues. These organizations are also in dire need of resources and support to build and sustain their organizational capacities. They identified the following primary needs: expand the reach and resources of CBOs through international partnerships; train women leaders in advocacy, coalition-building strategies and negotiation skills; launch a national advocacy program about the importance of including women in reconstruction and transitional development agendas at the local, regional and national levels; promote organizational and staff development with tools and financial resources that improve institutional capacity.

A Window of Opportunity

A critical window of opportunity exists for women’s participation in the development and reconstruction of South Sudan. During our assessment, we uncovered both a great need and a great desire for our services and resources, particularly in southern Sudan. Not only has the protracted civil war destroyed any semblance of infrastructure, but the area has some of the highest female illiteracy and malnutrition rates in the world.

- 95% of WfWI - South Sudan participants have no formal education

- 96% of WfWI - South Sudan participants can not read or write 

Economic opportunities for women, such as WfWI's bakery program, are vital in making sure that women are fully involved at all levels of society. Despite the devastation wrought by protracted conflict, the population, especially women, is eager and hopeful for change. Women for Women International aims to use our expertise with women and post-conflict societies to help integrate socially excluded women and women’s organizations in Sudan’s reconstruction and development.

Nov 6, 2013

Fatime Lima

Meet WfWI - Kosovo graduate Fatime Lima!

Fatime is a 37 years old woman. Her parents divorced when she was a child and she was raised by her aunt. She has three kids that are 17, 15 and 8 years old and lives in a small house, with her husband who works sometimes.

Fatime enrolled in the gardening vocational track at WfWI, but is also exploring making and selling handicrafts. In additiont to her vocational training, she enjoyed meeting with other women who shared her struggles and getting to know them.

Says Fatime: “I never had the strength to discuss my life with anyone—I never said what a huge wish that I had to meet and embrace my mum. The women’s group in the program enabled me to share these sorts of things with my peers.  On the day that I talked about it in the program, I remember I was not being able to sleep well. Now that this dream has been realized, I will be grateful to the WfWI-Kosova Organization for as long as I am alive.”

After graduation, Fatime has become a truly active citizen. She has organized women of her village Baja to enroll in our program. She is a member of a farmer’s asscociation “Prodhimi Drenas” and also she participates in different fairs by selling produce she has cultivated in the greenhouse—a project from her vocational skills curriculum at Women for Women-Kosova--such tomatos and cucumbers.

Sep 19, 2013

Meet Roseline Oluchi Ugwu

Roseline in front of her house.
Roseline in front of her house.

Meet WfWI - Nigeria graduate Roseline Oluchi Ugwu. In addition to learning a vocational skill so they can start a small business, like a poultry farm, participants in WfWI's programs learn valuable business skills and recieve rights awareness training, so they can not only earn an income from their business, but use that income to help themselves and their families thrive.

Roseline Oluchi Ugwu is one of the participants of women for women program in Nrobo.  She has one child (a girl) as well as two adopted boys.

Her father died while her mother was three months pregnant with her. She had 6 sibilings. She never went to school. The girls in the family did not attend school because her mother perceived education at that time as a waste of time and resources for females, but her brothers were allowed to attend school.

Roseling was not happy with a whole lot of things- giving birth to only one child, her husband leaving her for another woman and also the fact that she had no money and no work.

Enrolling in the WfWI program helped her see new opportunities. Training on "Understanding Financial Household Management, Household Savings, Goal Setting and Opportunities for Income Generation" motivated her to be serious with her business and she was able to find additional business opportunities like selling oranges, frying garri out of cassava, harvesting and selling of palm products that gave her an additional income. 

She commended her facilitator on the way she treated the topic on "women's rights and law, women and household decision making as well as ownership and interhitance." She saved her sponsorship funds and other money from her daily and monthly income to be able to achieve her goal of building a house.

Roseline realized that women can own land and went to her husband’s people and requested a piece of land.  Her request was granted; a piece of land was given to her and out of her savings and other money she borrowed started building a mud house of 3 bedrooms with veranda. 

Says Roseline, "Women for women has made me proud, I am a changed person”.

 

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