December 21, 2017 —

Over the last twenty years, Women Thrive has been helping grassroots gender equality advocates create long-lasting change in the communities they work in. With the formation of our Raise Your Voice program, we have helped Alliance members strengthen their institutional capacity and advocacy activities.  

Photo Credit: Bishop Aisili Counseling Center

Grassroots advocates recognize the urgent and ever-changing needs of their communities, working hard to combat the roots of gender inequality. Alliance member Sister Florence of Bishop Asili Counseling Center does just that. When she entered the community of Lira in rural Uganda, she knew that “praying will not help” the harm caused by decades of violence and unrest. A majority of the women in Lira have experienced sexual and gender-based harassment and assault, and as a result, had become marginalized from the rest of the community.

For Sister Florence, the best way to empower the women of Lira was to offer counseling and a safe place for women to find their potential to “earn income and get meaning in life and continue earning their living even without their husbands or without people that should be there to support them.”

In 2007, the Sister Florence founded Bishop Asili Counselling Center. They started modestly, holding support groups and discussions under a tree in the town, later moving to a house, and then receiving funding to build a full center. Ten years later, the organization that started with 10 women under a tree now reaches 1000 women in Lira.

When Women Thrive first met Sister Florence in 2015, Bishop Asili was established and ready to expand their services in the community. Sister Florence and her staff identified the skills needed to strengthen their advocacy work and found support and training through Women Thrive’s courses. “When I did the workshop and courses, it empowered me most to identify the kind of people to work with and make sure that these people identify how they can be stakeholders.”

Photo Credit: Bishop Aisili Counseling Center

Sister Florence took the skills she learned from Women Thrive’s courses, such as how to write funding proposals, and shared them with the women in Bishop Asili’s literacy program. The women wrote proposals to receive funding from the Ugandan government to buy goats and pigs — allowing them to build their agricultural skills — which provided them with greater economic independence.

One of the things Sister Florence values most about her participation in the Alliance and in Women Thrive’s courses is the different ideas she gets from other Alliance members: “Every time we meet and chat, I’ve learned something from someone and am able to implement it in my organization and I found that it has worked so so well.”

Through the support and collaboration from fellow Alliance members and the skills acquired from Women Thrive’s courses, Sister Florence is confident Bishop Asili Counselling Center will reach their goals. By 2019, they want the most marginalized women in Lira to live sustainably, becoming advocates and leaders themselves. By 2020, they want to see men and women in Lira work better together and reach another 500 families in the community!

To learn more about Bishop Asili Counselling Center or to contact Sister Florence, please email Women Thrive at membership@womenthrive.org