Emily Hiatt, WFAC Advocacy Consultant, has worked in politics for several years, including the Office of Global Communications at The White House, and also U.S. Congress, CNN, and in international affairs. She currently works in healthcare policy.

Emily is a 'lobbyist by trade', and has kindly offered to help with policy analysis and advocacy in the US and the rest of the world.

She is helping to organise a Women for a Change survey to find out the main issues affecting women across the world. Do tell us what your major concern is, This is the beginning of a wider project to help create platforms for change.

The bigger response to this survey the more effective it will be.
So this discussion is addressed to all women on the Business Fights Poverty network:
You are invited to leave a comment here to let us know what your #1 issue is...

The WFAC International Foundation is an NGO registered in the UK.

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Dear Emily
Iam from Uganda, my name is Ofong Pauline. My issue is Domestic Violence. In Uganda and indeed most of Africa, women are still regarded as property they can be dealt with as the owner pleases. Women are buttered day in and day out. Many women have been killed by their husbands in both rural and urban areas and in many cases the killing is on the pretext of a wife having denied a husband conjugal rights, or she did not serve a decent meal etc. Poverty and gender inequality at household level contributes to domestic violence. My organisation, the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs' Association advocates for economic empowerment of women as one avenue to reduce domestic violence. When a woman has money in her pocket she feels more secure and confident than one who has nothing. We should advocate for economic rights as human rights for women. Although the constitution of Uganda provides for equal rights before the law, women have had a raw deal. Women still do not own property and may not inherit land. Widows are stripped of everything at the death of a husband. The law does not adequately protect a woman. The Domestic Relations Bill which addreses relationships in a home, property ownership and inheritence, have been blocked by majority of male legislators.
Thank you so very much for this Pauline.
I will forward your very helpful response to Emily, in case she doesn't have time yet to look in here herself yet.

With warmest wishes
Hi Emily,

I joined BFP network just last month.MY name is Margaret Essien. I am a Nigerian. The issue that bothers women in Nigeria is marginalisation. In formulating policies, political appointment, education etc. The girl child is treated as if she were a second rated citizen. In rural Nigeria, they will rather send the boy- child to school than the girl-child. She is seen as a 'waste of investment' because she will be evntually 'accquired' by some man and would be senteced to 'domestic-city' all the days of her life.

Even at state and federal govenment level, how many women are serving at key positions or elected for public office. "she is a woman, what does she know' comes up everynow and then. Though we have women advocacy group, enlightening women to get up and fight for equal representation but the 'if she is active and vibrant, she wont be a good home-maker' syndrome still prevails. Its still a MAN's world here.

Its a pity, Africa women have a looooonnnnggg way to go!

Hi Margaret
Yes African women have along way to go. What can we women do to shorten the way? May I suggest that we look to ourselves to find solutions. I believe that you are able to speak for yourself at the level you are now. Your children are receiving socialisation that will make them confindent and able to stand on their own feet without waiting for a husband or society to approve of what she is doing. Why do women always look for approval from somebody or society? I am asking this because of your last comment "good home maker syndrome" Is a woman not a human being in her own right? What about the man, who judges his suitabilty as a home maker?
I believe women can change this situation and we are on the way there. Let us empower the girl child and the boy child to grow responsibly as equal partners in development and the next generation may be different.
I am a husband to a lovely wife and a father to three cute daughters plus two boys.Am i allowed to share in this dscussion?
Thank you so much for this, Meg & Pauline. I will be forwarding these responses to Emily Hiatt.
You are both also very welcome in our women's online community where we already have a Nigeria Group and a Uganda Group set up. All being well, I'll be seeing our lovely Nigerian coordinator in a couple of weeks as she's flying over for my wedding! And one of my co-Directors is from Uganda. So these countries are of course very close to my heart. I am delighted to be in touch with you both.

Torti, you are most welcome to join this discussion and speak on your lovely wife's behalf - and the issues of women in your country. I don't know if your wife is able to use the internet but, if so, it would be really lovely to hear from her too, of course.

With warmest wishes to all,
Its disheartening to read about Meg's and Pauline's interventions which i know is truthful.It is so disgraceful this wickedness is perpetrated under the canopy of 'culture ' and male driven traditions which i object to.I have had to publicly defend womenfolk from misguided male chauvinism but i find that in most cases i am just on my own.The so called victims cringed and cowered to the extent that people queried my motives.I guess the way forward is for the women folk to seize the initiative and catch the ball and run.
Remember the case of that brave young Nigerian woman Miss Uzoma Okere, who was assaulted by some barbaric naval ratings over some flimsy traffic/road rage.The lady refused to let things be swept under the carpet.And some body is bound to face draconian punishment by that ungentlemanly behaviour.
if she had allowed things to be 'settled' vide the usual 'traditional' way of conflict resolutions,she would have gone down swallowing a lot of horse manure.Am happy women are networking but they should be strident in their advocacy.
Thank you so very much for speaking out here, Torti, and for your support.

Fortunately, with the internet, it is so much easier for women to connect as a force for change.

I will try and keep you updated here on our other work, as well as our advocacy project.

I will be busy for the next couple of weeks, as I am getting married soon. And, actually, we have a wonderful woman from Nigeria coming to our wedding. As she is also involved in our organisation, i look forward very much to meeting her and to finding out more about the issues for women in Nigeria.

With warmest wishes
Dear Christine, Thanks for bringing up this issues. I am Ochola Michael, in Nothern Uganda a region that has been affected by war between the Government of Uganda and the Lords Resistence movement, Sorry for joining late however this topic is very importante. The I ssues I have is as presented by a friend in Uganda on Gender Based violence, and gender equality. Cultural circumsitances to aiding development of women. I come from a cultural back ground where women do not entirly own some valuable facilities/assets and I do beleive some collegues are also sharing the same. How has this been achieved in other cuontries will help in women?

Thanks for the different postings.

Michael Ochola
Kenyan women according to agency reports have embarked on a sex strike,as a protest against the lingering political crisis in the country{see attachment}I think the women should be commended for this.
Yes, Chinyemike, the Kenya women must be commended for taking or embaking on collective action to get men to think about the impact their selfishness and greed for power, is having on the nation. Recently one Kenyan lady minister resigned from the Kibaki cabinet in protest. I say bravo to the courageous women.
I am from Uganda and I believe that women can bring about change in society by taking collective action agianst those practices that oppress them like genital mutilation, forced marriages for young women, property rights and the like. Education for the girl child and economic empowerment are key.
This is where investment should be channelled to.
Methink the doughty Kenyan women should extend the embargo to a month.And just in case any one who claims conjugal rights wants to force his way,he should receive the shock,sharp therapy or charged for rape.


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