New U-TOUCH Women’s Empowerment (WE) program inUganda
U-TOUCH stands for Universal Technology Outreach Community Hubs. The organization aims to help people create opportunity for themselves and their communities with marketable skills for the workforce, beyond completing school. U-TOUCH stemmed from the idea that “Brilliance is equally distributed….Opportunity is not.” With this in mind, U-TOUCH hired its first woman trainer at the Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) and completed its first program targeted at women’s empowerment.
“U-TOUCH did something in Gulu that had never been done before. It provided a safe space for women to share their issues and struggles and ultimately a space that welcomed self-expression, growth and understanding. As a class we tackled issues of self-esteem, building a positive body image, ways to over-come gender based violence and learned leaderships skills as well as how to start and manage a small business. Through the three week training, twenty women embarked on a journey that inspired them to push past their circumstances and insecurities and dared them to be fearless. At the end of the training twenty women received their certificates of completion with confidence, pride, knowledge and a fearless attitude ready to take on the world.”
The need for a program like WE became apparent from the first day U-TOUCH opened its doors. Executive Director, Deb Plotkin recalls her surprise when 75 men and only one woman came to the first day of class. She recalls, “I told the men that if they wanted to come back tomorrow, they had better bring a woman. And I said to the woman, come back tomorrow with all of your friends.” And from that point on, U-TOUCH classes have been gender balanced.
Now, men and women of the communities are engaged in constructive conversations about the roles and rights of women.