Sunday, July 14, 2013

Voice of Women Uganda

The power distance between men and women in East Africa is exceptional…and women understand that they are not to question the authority of men…or pretty much anyone. As an example, I might ask the women if meeting at 2:00 is a good time for them and they will most certainly say “yes”…then arrive at 4:00 because they were occupied at 2:00. It would not be culturally appropriate for these women to say “no” to someone they viewed as having more authority (but for some reason it’s perfectly acceptable to not fulfill your commitment.)

Back Row: Sam, Immaculate, Millie, Ham
Front Row: Meldah, Livingstone
As another example, a woman knew that her husband was sleeping with other women and suspected that he had HIV/AIDS. She feared confronting her husband and asking for a test because of the power distance factor in this culture. He could and would easily beat her for such a demand. Further, this woman cannot refuse her husband if he makes sexual advances…again because of the power distance. Ultimately, this woman (one among millions) will contract HIV/AIDS and die because of the power distance in this culture.

Voice of Women Uganda seeks to close the gap in the area of power distance. They’re not seeking to equalize or overtake men, they’re simply wishing to help women realize their voice as it pertains to issues of reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, education, and economic development. And alongside that voice, they strive to help men understand the value of partnership with their wives and the importance of their voice.

I’m honored to spend time in organizational development with Voice of Women Uganda and am thankful for the eye opening examples these leaders so readily share.