Poverty affects millions of people around the world. What is often overlooked, however, is that women are deeply impacted by the struggle of poverty and are threatened by it in ways that men may not always be. One nonprofit, The Greater Contribution, has been tackling these issues in their battle against Ugandan poverty in the wake of the coronavirus.
Ugandan women, not to mention women across Africa, have been uniquely affected by not just the pandemic but also poverty. Over 70% of African women who don’t work in agriculture work in the informal sector—work such as market and street vending. Many of the women working in these jobs in Uganda don’t simply have to worry about law enforcement confiscating their goods being sold in undesignated markets. They now must also worry about how they will survive in a severely slowed economy. Furthermore, the work that is most threatened by the crisis—such as accommodation, food service, real estate and business services among others—employs 41% of the female workforce worldwide.
As unemployment rises, it’s predicted that women will take the brunt of the damage and that the number of Ugandan women in poverty will increase. While illustrating the extent of the issue, humanitarian group CARE pointed to Guatemala, where 96% of the women benefiting from their entrepreneur programs are no longer able to afford basic food items, as an example of the issue. In many of these cases, Ugandan women are not wealthy business owners but are simply seeking to make a living day-to-day and hand-to-mouth. This is as true regarding poverty in Uganda as it is anywhere else.
The Greater Contribution
The Greater Contribution is working to amend these issues. The NGO, which has been in operation since 2006, primarily focuses on providing microloans to and organizing literacy programs for Ugandan women in poverty or on the cusp. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve been adopting new strategies in order to best aid impoverished women. As of late, they have started a virtual event running through the month of July called Lift&RaiseHER. The program is designed to raise funds for struggling female-owned businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Supporters will make a donation and take a picture of themselves lifting a household object, meant to reflect how they are working to lift up Ugandan women in poverty. They’re then asked to share the photo on social media in order to get the word out and encourage others to contribute. The financial goal of the event is to raise $20,000 between July 4th and July 31st.
This hasn’t been the only action that The Greater Contribution has taken. After an emergency appeal, they raised $5,000 in order to deliver basic foodstuffs and emergency supplies to over 800 of their borrowers. Furthermore, their staff has manufactured and delivered their own hand sanitizer after price gouging made it all but unavailable to the impoverished. These steps, while not always massive, are nonetheless important to effectively combat poverty in Uganda.
The impact that the global epidemic has had on the impoverished is undeniable. But thanks to the work done by nonprofits like The Greater Contribution, some semblance of recovery is being offered to the women who are on the precipice of poverty, particularly Ugandan women in poverty. They provide a model others should seek to emulate worldwide.
– Aidan O’Halloran