The Mothers’ Union is located in the North-Eastern Region of Uganda and is in Soroti Diocese which covers the four districts of Katakwi, Amuria, Kaberamaido and Soroti. The Union is a member of the Anglican faith but renders services to the community without discrimination. It has membership that spreads throughout the 43 parishes of the Diocese.
The Union is governed by the Diocesan structure, and has an eleven member board that runs the administration. It liaises with the Missions Department which spearheads the holistic approach to evangelism.
For time immemorial, a family was considered to be a symbol of unity where all good aspects of life were imparted to members and society. The elders in the family played a very important role to shape the character of all the young people within their scope. Mothers were instrumental in modeling the girls for future motherhood while the fathers did the same to the boys as future fathers. Informal education rested on parents. They handled all aspects of life beginning from health, agriculture, social to spiritual.
As life progressed, a gap developed between the men/boys and women/girls, whereby, the women/girls were denied formal education by their parents preferring them to be a source of wealth and thereby rendering them vulnerable in life. This therefore means that the role of the women in the development of the society generally is undervalued, poorly developed and constrained by a variety of social and economic factors. Out of this, arises a feeling of powerlessness against the economic and social structure which seems to be hostile or indifferent to women. Poverty in society is evident, but with lack of motivation among the women and girls, the dominant, negative attitude constraints them the more as they are regarded as inferior and suitable only as home makers, child carers, and if offered employment should be considered for low-skilled, low productive, low status jobs calling for little intellect display. Mostly the part even the few gifted and lucky women play in the development of society is often ignored particularly in the rural areas. Therefore, to realise the hidden potential in these women and girls, it calls for collective search by those organs who advocate for the vulnerable women and this should be deliberately handled with tolerance and sincerity as this is a slow and sometimes painful process but nevertheless has to be achieved.
The Mothers’ Union has been successful in establishing branches and preaching the gospel through her members. They have also attempted to handle some theoretical training on income generating activities, but due to lack of resources to erect permanent buildings in the rural centres where the training takes place their morale goes down. It is a problem teaching people in the open as there is a lot of disturbance either from the passers by, wind, rain or sunshine. As these women engage in learning survival skills, the products from their craft work may lack a technical touch to enable them compete for favourable market since they cannot engage and pay technical personnel. The Mothers’ Union will then act as a bridge to this problem by setting up demonstration centres.
Although women are generally known to be home makers, most of them fall short of their expectations since they lack information on vital issues like time and financial management, food preparation and processing, health, sanitation and family planning which play a very big role in the development of society.
An additional challenge for women is that since their parents especially the mothers did not experience the benefits of education, they are likely to neglect their daughters in turn. This will create a recurrent cycle of limiting girls’ education. The scenario described above can only be summed up in a need to come up with a programme that will try to look at specific areas of need by specific groups of women ranging from school dropouts, those who never went to school at all to those who are married and finding life hard. The Mothers’ Union as an organ appreciates the plight of women and is determined to come up with a Women and Family Development Programme to handle the following areas:
a) Training in home economics for girls and women in rural areas in order to enable them be better housewives and mothers, equip them with skills to increase family income,create awareness among the women on development – oriented matters in order to help them embrace and support such programmes when they are brought to the community.
b) Conduct home economic lessons at the grassroot level to reach the most vulnerable women with emphasis on nutrition and family health, child health .
c) To run a Pre-school to provide suitable environment for social, physical and mental development of the children; an educational process to involve all the parents in the community.
Mothers’ Union as an organization seeks to address these challenges by creating a Women and Family Development Centre in Church of Uganda Soroti diocese. The centre is expected to offer a safe place for counseling families in marital strife, educate the young children in nursery and daycare, thus giving the mothers a chance to relax and improve on their performance at their workplace for those working or at home for those not employed or better still access education for those who are still interested. At the centre also there will be opportunities to conduct workshops and seminars to train them in life skills such as , parenting, and income generating activities. This joint effort would positively affect women emotionally, spiritually, socially, and economically, making them stronger contributors to society.