Capacity-building visits to see Jo Cox Memorial grant holders in Uganda

Categories: Events, Jo Cox Memorial Fund, Project impact, Women
19 May 2022


At the end of March, members of the UK Aid Direct fund management team were delighted to get the chance to visit three Jo Cox Memorial Grant holders in Uganda to see how they were getting on and provide in-person guidance for their projects.


They were the first in-person visits by the fund team since the COVID-19 pandemic, when monitoring and capacity-building sessions were modified to be delivered remotely instead. 

Projects visited

Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Project (WELP) delivered by Forum for Women in Democracy, also known as FOWODE

The first project to be visited by the UK Aid Direct team was FOWODE‘s. Working in five districts of Uganda, the organisation is economically empowering women through capacity-building leadership and business skills using established women’s Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs). It is also developing peer-to-peer learning skills to train other mixed member community groups and utilise male champions to train male community members in the villages where gender-based violence (GBV) and other issues are known to exist.

Achievements to date:

  • 2,963 women being trained in leadership and business skills, with an additional 3,799 indirect women being trained through peer support. Note: impact data for these groups are still being verified, so this is reach data.
  • Of these, 530 direct women to date have reported an increase in income since the training and
  • Out of 105 new women councillors, 7 were women with a disability.

Almost 1,000 men have also been interviewed as part of their annual indicator assessment exercise and 100% testified to a positive change in their attitude towards women’s rights and reducing violence towards women. It should be noted however, that behaviour-change is a long-term endeavour:

“Ultimately, empowerment is seeking to address the fundamental power imbalances within social, political, and economic structures. Individual, time-bound projects must be placed within this context and recognised as contributions to this broader and longer-term journey…” Taken from UK Aid Direct’s Learning Paper: Reflections on Women’s Empowerment (PDF, 5MB).

This Jo Cox Memorial (Network) Grant funded project was designed to be delivered over three years and will end in September 2022.

The fund team met one of the women’s VSLA groups with FOWODE and learned about their small business progress (which includes tailoring and animal rearing)

MIFUMI Women’s Network delivered by MIFUMI

The second project visit was to MIFUMI in Tororo.

Also with the support of a Jo Cox Memorial (Network) grant, MIFUMI is working in 14 districts in the country, with grassroots, women-led organisations as well as local police and authorities. It is using community drama groups to address sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV); offering advice, assistance, signposting, and providing shelter to victims of violence.

Achievements to date from this project include

  • An increase of awareness within communities about their rights
  • Female survivors of GBV becoming champions and mediating within the communities
  • Male champions (including male youths) mobilising and sensitising the communities; and the provision of a
  • Free support line for advice and help is managed by staff in the capital, Kampala, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This project was designed to be delivered over three years and will also end in September 2022.

Strengthen Feminist consciousness and agency to disrupt patriarchal norms and mindsets delivered by MEMPROW

The final third project to be visited by the team was that of MEMPROW.

Delivered with the support of a Jo Cox Memorial (Strengthening) grant, this project is based in Kampala and is designed to Strengthen Feminist consciousness and agency to disrupt patriarchal norms and mindsets.

With a very fast-growing young population in the country – the average age of the Ugandan population is 15 years – this small, feminist organisation is empowering school-age girls and young women and offering support in sexual reproductive health and rights and GBV, as well as practical business skills to young female adults aged 20 to 31.

The team visited two government-run secondary schools to meet ‘MEMPROW girls clubs’, groups of gender-aware youths and their teachers, who are actively addressing harmful social norms and challenging patriarchal power structures in their schools, peer groups, homes, and communities. The project brings some of these students together for MEMPROW residential summer camps, to empower the girls around issues of SRHR, GBV, leadership and women’s empowerment.

Discussions with the girls indicated high levels of activism as a result of the programme, from

  • Speaking up in class (where before they would have been shy to do so)
  • Challenging brothers and male peers on harmful attitudes and behaviours and
  • Speaking to friends about women’s rights and SRHR issues.

This project was designed to be delivered over three years and will end in March 2023.

Thank you to all organisations, members of staff and beneficiaries, for giving their time to our visits and welcoming the team so warmly.

Learning event

A two-day learning event for the grant holders was also held while the team were in Uganda, bringing the organisations together to network and learn from each other. One day was focussed on grant management, and the second day explored what women’s empowerment means to the organisation and the women and girls their projects support, and how they can drive this important work forwards in new and creative ways.

Read more on the learning event.