Before becoming a woman councilor in our community, I used to fear entering a bank. I looked at those magnificent buildings with glass windows and never thought I will one day be right inside. Every time I passed by a bank, I only looked back to see my reflection and always thought I’m a villager who did not deserve to enter a bank.
I had resigned within myself, that banks are meant for educated people with high social status and not villagers like myself. After a long encounter with a women’s saving group in my community, I entered a local bank because being one of the signatories to the new account we were set to open, I had no excuse but to swallow my fears.
Inside the bank, I kept on looking at every person, most of them were men with just a few women. They all seemed to have a particular form of dress code, that appeared smart to my eyes.
But my eyes also led me to women like myself, just dressed in simple clothing. At the end of our mission in the bank, my fears were at bay and it dawned on me that it didn’t matter how I looked or how I have dressed but the mission of adopting a saving culture.
Reflecting on my banking nightmares, I realize that so many women in rural areas could be going through a similar situation or even worse. Most of the women in my village toil and spend days tilling the land and upon harvest, their spouses decide on how the money is to be spent. Sometimes this money is used by spouses to marry a second wife.
It is for this reason that I am using every opportunity to educate fellow women on the importance of saving money to improve their lives.
Changing the narrative
Mastula (Real name withheld) is one of the beneficiaries of the Women empowerment project implemented by URI Great lakes. With support from URI Great Lakes, groups of women from Eastern Uganda were trained on property rights, adopting saving cultures, and gender-based violence.
The property rights project has transitioned into a technology-enabled intervention that trains women to use smartphones to report cases of abuse and infringement on their property rights in their communities to the rightful authorities.
Today, these groups of women are equipped with the skills to support other women in their communities.