NUWODU: A Unified Voice for Women and Girls with Disabilities in Uganda

According to Uganda's 2014 Population and Housing Census, 7 out of every 50 people aged 5 or above have one or more disabilities.[1] Women in Uganda also tend to have a higher prevalence of disability than men. In 1999, a group of women and youth with disabilities came together at a national conference in Kampala, Uganda, after observing rights violations of women and girls with disabilities. These violations included limited access to social services, torture, double discrimination as both women and individuals with disabilities, and a lack of recognition by the women's rights movement. Thus, the National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU) was born.

Fully women-led, NUWODU serves as a membership organization that brings together women and girls experiencing all categories of disabilities and gives them a unified voice to advocate for rights and equal opportunities. NUWODU's advocacy work focuses on creating awareness of rights and potentials of women with disabilities.  Of special interest are the rights of women in HIV/AIDS and reproductive health programs. Additionally, NUWODU serves as a coordinating body and information center. It provides capacity-building and skills training, assistive devices, and specialized services to strengthen the many decentralized groups that serve women with disabilities.

Members of Uganda Parliament Hon. Asamo Hellen Grace and Hon. Hajjat Safia Nalule cut the ribbon to NUWODU's new offices.

NGOsource's Role

NUWODU first went through the equivalency determination (ED) process in the summer of 2016 when one of NGOsource's grantmaker members requested its ED certificate. Since then, both the initial funder and an additional grantmaker have requested NUWODU's ED again.

Shamim Nampijja, Information and Communications Technology Assistant of NUWODU, notes that going through the ED process and receiving funding from their U.S.-based funder "opened up a new chapter [for NUWODU] as it meant that NUWODU was no longer going to be restricted on how they were using the grant." The funding NUWODU received allowed the organization to build its internal capacity as an organization. It built out its staffing to work on improved internal systems control and programming, and was able to go from a tenant to a landlord "thanks to the flexibility of ED."

In addition to their access to more flexible funding, NGOs like NUWODU also benefit from increased transparency and trust with potential funders. Shamim noticed that after going through the ED process, "donors are more trusting NUWODU with their funds than before because of the status the fund put us to” and this has enabled NOWODU to get other partners on board.

NUWODU disseminating its communication material at the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.

ED in Action

Receiving the ED and the funding associated with it allowed NUWODU to expand on its ability to do what it does best: empower women and girls with disabilities. Part of this work included the development of new programs focused on reproductive health rights as well as gender-based violence against girls and women with disabilities. NUWODU is proud to be an advocate for inclusion and disability mainstreaming by providing women and girls with disabilities with the tools and knowledge to advocate for their human rights.

[1] Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2016, The National Population and Housing Census 2014 – Main Report, Kampala, Uganda

Top photo: NUWODU staff and members from the Bunyangabu District Association of Women with Disabilities at the 2019 International Women's Day Celebration in Bunyangabu.

All photos used with permission from NUWODU © 2019.