The Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) has launched the building of the Imara Women’s Centre at their site in Kasangati. FOWODE is a national women’s rights organization that grew out of the women’s caucus of the 1994-1995 Constituent Assembly that passed the 1995 Constitution.
The Imara Women’s Centre is an initiative to anchor the work being done to further advance women’s rights in Uganda. The name “Imara” is a Swahili word that means bold, strong and firm. It is intended to provide a conducive environment for women to think, grow, heal, meditate, create and support each other.
Imara Women’s Centre is a non-profit organization and is to be open to all women in need of its space. The overall budget for construction of the Centre is seven million, eight hundred thousand US dollars ($7.8m). The fundraising for the Imara Centre was kick-started by auction of a painting at ten million Uganda shillings. The event ended with a ribbon cutting ceremony to start off the fundraising for the first phase of construction of the Imara Women’s Centre.
The launch was graced by the presence of women who have been instrumental in the advancement of the rights of women and girls in Uganda in all fields especially leadership and democracy. These include Ms. Winnie Byanyima, one of the co-founders of FOWODE, Martha Karua of the National Rainbow Coalition - Kenya, Rebecca Kadaga; the Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda, among others.
“I am happy to see all of you beautifully dressed in your African clothes - look at how far we’ve come! Not so long ago, we would all be here in black and grey European clothes that don’t fit us,” Byanyima said.
All guest speakers applauded the efforts of FOWODE in Uganda and were emphatic of the need for women to have their own spaces. In her remarks, Kadaga, as the Government of Uganda representative, said that there is more work to be done to achieve equality among men and women in Uganda. The need for more residences for girls at higher levels of learning is apparent and will be key in seeing to it that more women are receiving quality education and are being allowed into corporate spaces.
Jessica Horn, the regional representative Ford Foundation talked about starting sustainable campaigns that are independent from foreign donors. She says the Imara Women’s Centre will be a base for women to strategize and mobilise resources to push for equality. She urged women and girls to continue working together and sharing their power because “power is elastic”.
The launch of the centre came as the world marks World Women's Day.