The Strength of Community: Empowering Women in Uganda

We recently traveled to a rural Ugandan community where we met Nafia, one of the 2.5 million moms we're reaching with prenatal multivitamins this year. Learn how women’s business groups and community health centers are empowering women like Nafia with tools for success.

By Amber McEldowney

A sparse arrangement of trees, strategically planted for shade, and a collection of free-roaming chickens and goats pepper the well-kept 8-acre plot of land that Nafia calls home.

A bright 21-year-old, Nafia explained that her father-in-law, Samuel, the friendly and welcoming patriarch of the family owns the property. Nafia’s husband is a builder and only comes home once a month. Gifti, (age 2), is the couple’s only child, but they hope to have more. Samuel is proud that his three children have grown up and had families of their own and he looks forward to having more grandchildren around as their “land is still big.”  

In Uganda, owning animals like chickens and goats is a sign of wealth and an indicator that Nafia and her family are more well off than many of their neighbors in the community, even though they are still living at the poverty line. While their animals aren’t used for food (except on special occasions), Nafia and her family are fortunate to grow vegetables on their land, which allows them to eat a more nutrient-dense diet. 

In addition to doing all of the cooking for her family (which she enjoys), Nafia is responsible for making the 2km walk to the local well for water every day.

This enterprising young mother also makes time to participate in a community women’s group which meets weekly and provides women with job training and income-generating opportunities. The women’s group, organized by Global Health Network, is also where Nafia learned about the prenatal multivitamins offered by the local health clinic.

Nafia explained that early on in her pregnancy she did not have an appetite, but when she started taking the prenatal multivitamins provided by the health clinic, her appetite improved. Gifti was born healthy, and as soon as she was old enough, Nafia made sure to start bringing her to receive a vitamin A every six months from the health center. With good health and good fortune, Nafia hopes Gifti will go to school and become a health worker.  

Programs like this demonstrate that when offered the opportunity, motivated women are empowered to effect change in their own lives and health, and carry on that positive influence to their communities, their children and even future generations.