Caption: Young researchers analysing data from community consultations and policy reviews
Uganda has a higher rising GDP than most other African nations, which has resulted from stronger economic reforms and relative political stability for the last 10 years. But 83% of 15-24 year olds in Uganda are unemployed, and young females are twice as likely not to have a job than young males. Young men are more likely to have formal market jobs while women are far more likely to work in the informal sector.
The Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) is a 5-year joint project (2016-2020) led by Plan International Netherlands, Terre des Hommes, and Defence for Children – ECPAT, and funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project aims to promote equal rights and opportunities for girls and young women. In partnership with Plan International Uganda, we are implementing this project in six districts across Uganda with a national level component too. We utilize the potential and expertise of young people, who best understand the local dynamics and issues that affect them, to advocate for the economic inclusion of girls and young women through evidence-based research.
How does it work?
Restless Development recruits and trains 4 young people from each district (24 total) and 5 from Kampala to lead research based advocacy efforts for the economic inclusion of girls and young women both at local and national levels.
At the local (district) level, Restless Development trains 24 young researchers, whereby they are asked to identify and agree on the major issues that negatively affect female employment and women in each of their districts. Restless Development provides guidance but ultimately allows the young people to structure their own research. They identify key stakeholders such as local leaders and/or private sector actors who are able to support them to advocate and lobby through government structures.
Caption: GAA researchers using technology to identify private sector actors in their target areas
The 5 national level researchers conduct a policy review based on the research questions selected by the district level researchers. Then both groups work together to review the employment policies and regulations relevant to the challenges identified to be affecting the economic inclusion of girls and young women in the target communities.
Caption: Youth researchers conducting a focus group discussion with girls and young women in Lira district.
Why it matters
Restless Development Uganda is the only local NGO that works directly with private sector partners in order to collect data on the economic inclusion of girls and young women. We have partnered with 35 private sector actors and identified over 70 gender champions from the different institutions involved in the programme. All these organizations have to go through a self-assessment of their own policies, especially those on sexual harassment, provision of separate washrooms, and maternity/paternity leave.
The local researchers engage with local businesses that employ girls and young women. They identify 2 people from each organization to become gender-champions and train them on how to include a gender-component to their operations and how this will add value to their business.
The GAA program has impacted the policies of many of the organizations we have worked with. Some advancements include the creation of nurseries for employees with families, adding sanitary pads/towels in company washrooms, and implementing progressive sexual harassment policies including consequences for offenders. Below is a list of some of our standout accomplishments:
Buyende District Local Government made a commitment to recruit a district labour officer to address the prevalent labour issues that have not been addressed in the district since its inception in 2010. The labour officer will support dissemination of labour laws, enforce their implementation and monitor progress.
Bukedea Lifeline Primary School has secured a nursing and safe space in their administration block for breastfeeding, rest and baby care.
The management of 291 Suites Hotel, QFM and Radio Wa in Lira district have included a number of women in their management committees. Previously, these three organizations only had men on their management committees.
Caption: GAA researchers and Restless Development staff after the initial research training