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.
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”.


Sep 18, 2013

Program Update - New Offices in South Sudan

WfWI participants show off their program materials
WfWI participants show off their program materials

WfWI Interim Africa Regional Director Karen Sherman continues her travels in South Sudan and talks to participants about their struggles and what they hope to gain from participating in our program. Participants in WfWI's year-long training program learn about a variety of subjects, including health awareness, rights awareness, vocational skills and basic business managment skills. The motorbikes will allow program participants to expand their business by helping them reach new markets, thereby helping them some of the dreams and hopes for the future they shared with Karen.

It’s mango season in Yei.  After weeks of heavy downpours, the ripe, delicious fruit is literally falling off the trees, providing a ready, nutritious source of food and income.  Pods of women gather the fallen fruit to sell in the marketplace or roadside, trying to earn  extra cash while the abundance lasts.  This month only, mangos saturate the market and diet, helping to sate some of the undernourished in this still food insecure region.

Their hunger is not only for food, but a deep and abiding hunger for learning. Women in particular have missed out on a formal education, thwarted for many reasons: persistent war, conflict and displacement over many years; the dominance of Islamic ideology under one Sudan that discouraged efforts to empower and educate women; traditional norms and values regarding girls’ education, seen more as a benefit to the prospective husband’s family rather than her own and thus unworthy of the investment.

Independence has brought new educational opportunities for women and girls, but not nearly enough to satisfy the pent up need and demand. According to the South Sudan Consolidated Appeal for 2013 developed by the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the country ranks at the bottom of global education indicators, with only 44% of children enrolled in primary school. The percentages are even worse for girls, especially for school completion. Yei Town Payam recorded a total of 2,362 children who sat for primary seven exams in 2012, only 33% of whom were girls.  Lack of income, early marriages and a poor enabling environment for education were cited for the high incidences of school drop-outs.

In the Yei River County where Women for Women International recently launched its program, the desire for training and education is high.  In Payawa Boma, 1,000 women turned up at our first recruitment session, though we could only enroll 100 due to the lack of available sponsors. In Longamere Boma, over 500 women vied for the 100 slots. Chiefs in each Boma helped to select the neediest or excluded women but in reality, all of the women were desperate and eager for training.  A total of 300 women were enrolled in the initial group of participants.

Life skills training commenced this week for six groups of 25 women. Attendance exceeded 100%, as women yet to be enrolled in the program turned up at some of the training sites hoping to join. One woman was so eager she sat at the window for the entire two hour introductory session just to listen in.  Support from local leadership was also strong; the chiefs stopped by to give opening remarks, the community donated training venues so women would have a safe environment in which to learn. The women were excited to receive their ID cards and begin to connect with their sisters in the U.S.

“I was supposed to be in class,” says Betty Sandy Moses, one of the new program participants. The war stopped her education at primary 5.  With two children of her own now, Betty wants to learn about business so she can send her children to school and give them the education that she missed. Joyce Jamba, another participant, has eight children but can only afford to send four of them to school. A widow whose husband died early, Joyce is most interested in training on health and stress management and will use the monthly training stipend to pay school fees for her children, 35 SSP per child per term or over 100 SSP a year for uniforms, supplies and materials.  The fees represent a daunting amount of money given women’s average daily income of just 2.4 SSP. The ability to earn and sustain an income, one of the key program outcomes, will be critical to keeping the children in school.

As committed as the women are to educating their children, it is clear they have yet to give up on their own dreams of an education. They expressed hope that Women for Women International’s program would serve as the primary and secondary schooling they never received, effectively empowering both generations.

The Sustaining an Income module is designed to help women overcome stereotypes and inequities that prevent them from gaining economic self-sufficiency. Topics address the benefits of savings, building assets, managing household finances, and the types of income generation opportunities available.

Topics Addressed Include:

  • The Value of Women’s Work: program participants shared their experiences about the social and economic value of women’s work. Participants learned about different kinds of work and discussed strategies to share productive and reproductive work responsibilities with family members.
  • The Gender Division of Labor: participants learned strategies to balance their productive, reproductive, and community management responsibilities.
  • Achieving Work-Life Balance: participants shared ideas on how to manage their time and activities while still ensuring time for rest and leisure.
  • Household Financial Management: program participants were introduced to concepts of organizing and controlling household resources, including basic concepts on managing spending, increasing income, and saving.
  • Household Savings: Women learned that saving regularly is the most important thing they can do to improve their financial situation. Women learned different ways to save and how saving regularly will help them reach their goals.
  • Income Generation Opportunities: program participants were introduced to basic concepts involved in earning a living. The session encouraged women to make the most of upcoming vocational business and skills training, and discussed ways to sustain income through self-employment, employment, and group business.

Sep 18, 2013

Meet Kana

Meet WfWI - South Sudan graduate Kana!

Kana is married with 6 children. For Kana, one of the best parts of her year-long WfWI program was the business training.

In addition to specific vocational skills, like breadmaking or farming, the WfWI curriculum includes business training. This means that women in our program don’t just learn a trade but they learn how to turn their trade into an income-generating business, such as a bakery. They learn to buy, sell, serve customers, and manage their finances.

Kana tells us that, through the WfWI business training, she has learned the importance of bookkeeping. Now she counts and keeps track of her products. 

Says Kana of her new business and the independence it gives her, "Before I used to rely on my husband for everything, even to buy soap. If my h usband didn't buy soap, I couldn't bathe. Now I buy soap and even have money to send my children to school.

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