Screenshot from the webinar

Engraved in its mission of building a network that supports social and gender norms programming strengthens expertise, informs policy, and advances positive development outcomes, Eastern Africa Learning Collaborative (EALC), together with its partners CARE International, the School Of Women And Gender Studies – Makerere University, and the Hewlett Foundation yesterday held a virtual launch of Phase II of the Eastern Africa Social And Gender Norms Learning Collaborative On Social And Gender Norms Practice Webinar under the theme: “Collaborating to Deepen Gender and Social Norms Practice.”

Hosted by California based Research Project Coordinator at the Center on Gender Equity and Health at UCSD Camille Ray, and regionally by CARE International in Uganda’s Senior Gender Advisor Dr. Aramanzan Madanda, the webinar as aimed at capacity building attracted participation from over 55 participants globally from countries: Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Ethiopia. It convened practitioners, researchers, advocates, and members of civil society to share and learn about experiences in gender and social norms research, advocacy, programming, and the need to break gender norms barriers and biases while re-establishing EALC’s objectives and building/strengthening EALC network with key stakeholders not targeted in the first EALC grant.

In her opening remarks, Lillian Mpabulungi Ssengooba the Program Manager, Gender & Justice at CARE International re-echoed that “Social norms are part of us, and that it is these norms that shape us as society and that these rules, written or unwritten govern people’s way of acting.”

Adding to her voice, CARE International Country Director Apollo Gabazire said: “Over the years we’ve globally engaged and involved various models such as engaging men and boys to promote positive masculinity to fight Gender-based Violence.”

“This has helped shift gender discourse. We are to shift ground in an area that if not tackled, it will not promote promotion”, he furthered.

According to Dr. Madanda, Phase II of EALC also focused on establishing secure and participatory processes and platforms, strengthening member capacity in social norms and improving policy and advocacy.

Fifteen minutes into the webinar, the floor was open to Frances Birungi-Odong, the Director of Programs · Uganda Community Based Association for Women and Children’s welfare (UCOBAC) and she highlighted poor norm diagnoses, weak evidence base, overly complicated language, and approaches, and few tested social norms measures as some of the global obstacles to social norms shifting programs.

On the matters of gender and land ownership, she noted that 80% of the agricultural labor force is made up of women, though few women own land due to the patriarchal setting of society which sees the male gender acquire land through their lineage (hereditary), from son to father to brother hence denying the females rights to inherit or own land.

In her concluding remarks, Frances emphasized the need to improve policies to allow for women’s land ownership, shifting mindsets around education for the females and shunning narratives like “women are not capable of excelling in male-dominated fields such as engineering, and must rather pursue art and social sciences, top leadership positions in education are for men and that educated girls are not preferred for marriage by men.”

The webinar was concluded with Assistant Lecturer from Kampala International University (Tanzania), offered accountability on how he and his team spent the grant they won in April 2020, after the collaborative event was first held.

About the Eastern Africa Social and Gender Norms Learning Collaborative.

The Eastern Africa Social and Gender Norms Learning Collaborative (EALC) is a network of practitioners, researchers, and evaluators that supports social/gender norms programming, strengthens expertise at the implementation level, informs policy, and influences development outcomes. The network seeks to support effective programming with validated approaches and strengthen social/gender norms practice in Eastern Africa in all areas/sectors that are influenced by social/gender norms. Membership includes representatives from the government, NGOs, researchers, evaluators, and development partners. Members are drawn from the Eastern Africa region working with collaborative in Nigeria, Francophone Africa, the USA, and Asia.

The EALC was formed in April 2020, co-hosted by the School of Women and Gender Studies (SWGS) and CARE International (CI) in Uganda. It brings together willing actors to document, share best practices, innovate and learn from each other. Since its inception, the network has brought together a diverse group of people working on social and gender norms in Research, Advocacy, Programming, and Measurement. The members have undergone training on social norms and have established thematic groups to share experiences drawing from their respective. It is against this background that the EALC hosted the e- conference yesterday under the theme “Collaborating to Deepen Gender and Social Norms Practice.”

Find out more about EACL & Care International Uganda’s works here.