Tuesday, 29 April 2014


One of the major hindrances to the enjoyment of human rights among the people of Rukungiri is lack of awareness of their rights. The poverty and illiteracy levels among the women especially, limits them from accessing relevant information on their right to reproductive health and access to quality reproductive health services. But after Rukungiri Gender and Development Association’s (RUGADA) two years intervention into the appalling situation, the above limitations are becoming but a thing of the past and the community
testifies to it; one Irene Muhangi of Nyakangyeme HC III, Nykangyeme Sub County, Rukungiri district notes “We have seen an increase in the number of women delivering at the Health Centre. Before they used to deliver from home and get complications. Some of the complications were so severe and enormous for us to treat. I thank the project for educating the women on their rights to reproductive health and how they can access quality reproductive health services”.  
Under its IDF funded project “Promoting respect for reproductive health rights for socially deprived women in Rukungiri”, RUGADA implemented a number of empowerment measures like training of volunteers, conducting community meetings and workshops, radio programs, production of advocacy materials that aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness on reproductive health including sexual and gender-based violence, particularly among pregnant women. In its action RUGADA emphasized broadening the scope of home-based lifesaving skills at the community level. Such measures ensured that individuals and communities could actively participate in improving their health. The project also enhanced the involvement of men in awareness rising about reproductive health rights for women. 
Among others, a tremendous increase in the number of pregnant mothers accessing antenatal services was registered from 32.2% to 46% in 2011-2013(LQAS2011-2013). And this indirectly saved the lives of mothers and babies by promoting and establishing good health before childbirth and the early postnatal period – the time periods of highest risk. Secondly, today health programs have been designed/mandated to serve the needs not only of married women, but unmarried women of all ages. And lastly yet important, is that, there has been a formal recognition that more equitable relations between men, women and reproductive rights are important ends in themselves. Involving men has been a prominent part of the shift from family planning to the broader reproductive health agenda.
The community-based implementation model and radio programs used in helped in creating massive awareness on reproductive health rights; while the community-Based volunteers (CBVs), travelling from village-to-village explaining to rural women the benefits of using Health Centres for delivery and utilizing all the other health services proved to be an essential tool for the project’s success.
One the whole, the project greatly enhanced women’s understanding of their rights to reproductive health and consequently contributed to better health among women and children in Rukungiri district.