The basis of my work at Ethnic Supplies is enabling women if Africa to lift themselves out of poverty. This work bring me in contact with heart wrenching situations especially women that have been abandoned by their husbands and been left holding the babies so to say.
On my last visit to Kabale SW Uganda I was introduced to the basket weavers in this picture. Besi’s story was especially sad. She has nine children and her husband had just abandoned her for a younger woman. With no formal employment or land of her own, the situation was desperate until she found Edirisa a local NGO and through them she was able to access buyers such Ethnic Supplies.
Milka and Flo on the other hand, have husbands at home who have no formal employment, and earn money as casual labourers, but this money is never available for the family to use and is instead spent on beer. I asked the ladies how they use the money the earn from selling baskets and they told me that mostly on the children’s education and health care.
African women have a great deal of responsibility for the family and I strongly believe that they hold the key to economic development.
Earlier today I came across this article from Voice of America that highlights America’s commitment to the education of African girls through USAID and quotes Hillary Clinton’s article in a South African paper in which she too agrees that empowering women is the key to global progress and prosperity
This is serious stuff folk, and I often wonder where I would be if my father like Besi’s husband had decided to abandon us, after all at the time of my birth girls were not afforded an education as they were expected to get married as early as 13 years of ages. Organisations such as the Commonwealth Council work very hard to ensure that girls in the common wealth have access to a decent education and you may recall my post about their work earlier this year. If you missed it here it is
One thing that puzzles me however, is that most African men I have come across on my journey with Ethnic Supplies agree that women need to be helped to become financially independent as they are the core of family and community life, but why isn’t this message getting through to some of the men, like Bessie’s husband?
Do we need to re focus our efforts and resources on the men instead?