The following is an abstract from the MSc Dissertation of University of Strathclyde LLM student, Vera Hayibor, following her Challenges Worldwide field research placement in Uganda during Summer 2017, exploring the impact of Labour Laws on the Economic Rights of Ugandan Women.
This research focuses on the elimination of extreme poverty as the goal No 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals. It proposes that the economic rights of women are made the solution. UN member countries have set into action plans and strategies to achieve the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) , which is to serve as a blue print for Economic development. However, the achievement of these goals is possibly more challenging for Least Developed Countries including Uganda whose majority population (women) are poverty stricken because of numerous factors.
This research also seeks to examine the impact of labour law as well as economic and socio-cultural factors on the economic rights of Ugandan women and women in general. In particular, how that can hinder their roles in achieving SDG1 by 2030.
The author carried out her research in Uganda working with various women and labour related organisations. As a result, the 3-month field research showed that the effect of inappropriate legislation and policies, ineffective implementation mechanisms and archaic cultures have a significant effect on the economic rights of women in Uganda. Meanwhile the influence of international laws such as Labour Law, is minimal on the impact on the economic growth of the average woman in Uganda. Comparing Uganda with two other countries (Kenya & Ghana) for a larger perspective showed that, the challenge is not only limited to least developed countries but developing countries also face similar obstacles.
This is an abstract from a field research placement that saw an LLM student from the University of Strathclyde work with Challenges Worldwide during Summer 2016 to conduct field research for their MSc dissertation.
With a revived momentum for economic growth and sustainability, Africa needs identified avenues to promote sustainable economic growth congruent with environmental and social benefits. The increasing growth of the shea industry and its importance to people in northern Ghana and Uganda makes it an industry worth exploring to ascertain its capacity to promote economic growth, environmental protection and social well-being i.e. sustainable development. This research therefore, sought to explore the role of the Shea industry towards sustainable development and poverty alleviation in Uganda and Ghana. The findings showed that, the shea industry provides economic opportunities in jobs, income, product output and market. Market access opportunities through trade agreements like EPA and AGOA also helps ease entrance to the foreign confectionary and cosmetics industries whose demand is the current backbone of the shea industry resulting in the industry’s growth. Also, environmental benefits were found in the shea industry by way of shea tree conservation, ecosystem benefits, reduction in GHG emissions and from environmental vulnerabilities. Additionally, social benefits by way of women empowerment, capacity building and community transformation were also found. However, challenges like legal restrictions curbing the quantity of shea used in chocolate products, standardisation, threats to shea trees, limited protection laws for shea trees and most especially disconnection of shea nut pickers from evenly benefiting from the industry acts as trade barriers which curbs the industry’s development and affects its economic, social and environmental opportunities. Nonetheless, these challenges were seen as insufficient to inherently offset or take away the industry’s capability to facilitate Sustainable Development. Furthermore, the industry’s capacity to help alleviate poverty through its economic, environmental and social opportunities as well as provide access and participation of the poor living in Northern Uganda and Ghana respectively in viable economic endeavours were seen to be significant. Consequently, making the shea industry a key avenue towards the achievement of SDGs 1 and aspiration 1 of Africa Agenda 2063, and aspiration 6 and several SDG targets is something to be greatly considered by government, NGOs and businesses.
Arriving at a new place always brings uncertainty with it. Going from Venezuela to Edinburgh to do my master’s degree was definitely a big cultural shock. But then, not happy with this change from South to North, from not so developed to more developed, going from amazing tropical weather to cold winters and summers, I decided to travel South again. This time, to India. And whenever this happens, stereotypes are begging to arise. Going from South to North makes you believe that you can buy whatever you need there, but when you go the other way around, you quite freak out, even if you come from a country in the Global South like me.
Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t alone in this not-so-positive opinion about India. When I told my friends and family that I was going to Bhubaneswar, the capital of one of the poorest states in the country, different opinions arose. All of them started with a celebration: “That’s awesome!”; “What an adventure!”; “Congratulations!” Yet, most of them were also followed by a “but”. “But be ready, your heart will shrink with all the poverty you’ll see”; “but don’t be walking around alone, you’ll get raped”; “but don’t be eating in the streets or drinking water”; “but why did you choose such a dangerous country, especially for women.” Suddenly my mind was full of buts and, I’ve got to admit, after receiving so many warnings and concerns I got a little bit more worried than I already was.
Then, what started as a small suitcase, turned into 23Kg of luggage, full of just-in-case things, from movies and books to keep myself entertained, to water purifier tablets, loads of medicines and even toilet paper! I know, being cautious never hurts. But my caution was based on a prejudice which, also, was based on a quite biased reality, the one that we hear about back home (in Venezuela). So that’s one of the big problems of stereotypes. It is not that they are not true, but they are just one version of the truth; that part of people’s and countries’ realities that has been decided to be told. Suddenly the big date arrived, and with all the “buts” in mind and my 23 kg I got into the plane. After half a day travelling, and a couple of guilty pleasure movies watched on the plane (all Disney), I arrived in Bhubaneswar’s airport. A very hot place, with a spectrum of colours mixed with a curry smell, where all eyes were on me (foreigners get all the attention) and there were mostly men around. Of course, one of the “buts” came to my mind right away.
So there I was, trying to play it cool, ignoring all the looks and trying to find the person of the NGO I was going to work with. But punctuality is not a thing in India, and after 20 minutes of “playing cool” Alok arrived. Then there I was, having my first glance of a city of contrasts, where poverty and underdevelopment mix with luxury shops and cars almost in every corner. After a month, I got more than just a glance of Bhubaneswar and at the end, most of the “buts” were replaced. Yes, there was poverty, but also opportunities and people wanting to make those opportunities available for everyone. Yes, men can sometimes be very pushy even just to take a picture with you, but more than that nothing will happen and, if it does, people around will help. Yes, it can be more complicated for women to move around, but it is not impossible and Indian women are already breaking paradigms. Yes, your stomach will get delicate, but you didn’t travel to India if you didn’t try their delicious food variety and something didn’t suit that well. Then no, those preconceptions are not the main characteristics of India.
The India I got to know is a country of very friendly people that will go out of their way to help you and make you feel at home. A country full of hard working people, that wake up at 5 am and sometimes stay in their shops until 9 or 10 pm because it is more pleasant for the client to go shopping at night (believe me, it’s a wise decision). Also, it’s a country full of passionate people, who want to make their city, state and country a way better place. People who have out of the box ideas to improve rural communities and that quit stable jobs just to work for their passion. I also found a country –at least a state– where leisure time and sharing with the people around you is very important, so you end up playing cricket during work hours and eating altogether during lunch. I found a country where, as in Venezuela, everything can be fixed with a smile. A place of volatile people that can scream at each other but the next day everything is ok. Also, a country of tolerance, with many religious beliefs that interact with each other and are respected by everyone.
At the end, I found that my mental sluggishness of generalising our opinions about people and countries in a very simple way made me be prejudiced, which can affect the attitude we take when start working in a different culture. Being aware of the risks of the places that we travel to is necessary, but acknowledging the differences and rescuing the positive aspects of them is as or even more important. Understanding this last point allows us to succeed in working with other cultures and learning from them. In this sense, I developed patience and respect for the former work dynamics, which also made me have to put in practice communicational and negotiation skills in order to be able to carry out my dissertation. I also learned to work with a translator to help communicate with the locals, which is complicated, and understood the importance of religion in the daily dynamics. Finally, I stopped having the necessity to find that India that I was expecting to find, and enjoyed the fast growing country full of ideas, willingness and contrasts.
This abstract is from a previous field research placement that saw an MSc student from Edinburgh University work with Zambian SME Vitalite during Summer 2016 to conduct field research for their MSc dissertation.
If you are interested in conducting field research for your dissertation through Challenges Worldwide, visit our Research Placements page
Globally, between 1.2 and 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity
Over half this number, around 620 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa. This is despite the fact that electrification has been shown to have a profoundly positive impact on many human development outcomes. Due to the geographic, economic and political remoteness of many unelectrified populations, it seems unlikely that a conventional ‘universal copper grid’ will provide them with access in the near future. However, trends in the mobile communications and photovoltaic industries have successfully been harnessed to bring distributed solar generation to over 500,000 households in sub-Saharan Africa, creating transformative change. This has been enabled by innovative distribution models developed by mobile network operators (MNOs), and the rise of mobile money, which allows households to pay for solar equipment in regular micro-instalments. The organisations distributing and operating these Pay As You Go Solar Home Systems are primarily based in East Africa.
This study investigates the potential for their success to be replicated in Zambia, through research conducted with Vitalite, a company pioneering the technology in Zambia. The study employs a socio-technical transitions lens to analyse data collected from early PAYG SHS adopters in Zambia, others who could benefit from the system, and company staff.
We are pleased to announce the success of one of Challenges Worldwide Alumni, Abel Ofoe-Osabutey, who has successfully started a Bamboo eye wear business in his home country of Ghana.
The Kingzmen Gh was born out of his undying interest in his sister’s eye defect which she has lived with from childhood. By age four, Abel’s little sister could hardly open her eyes and struggled to see in the high rays of the sunlight and was deemed to be partially blind. As a result, she had to leave her regular schooling due to her inability to cope with class activities and the negative attention she got for her eye condition.
Inspired by this, Abel Ofoe-Osabutey, was motivated to do something innovative to help support the movement to prevent blindness amongst people living in Ghana, Africa and across the world. In the backseat of a Business class at the University of Ghana Business School, he conceived the idea to start an Eyewear Business aimed at solving one of the leading causes of blindness in Ghana and across the world, Cataract. Joining this with his passion to cause change in Ghana through innovative ways of job creation and creating better living standards, The Kingzmen Bamboo Eyewear was conceived.
Abel however didn’t start this business right after conceiving the idea. He wanted some advice from a creative genius in order to know what direction to take his business. Fortunately, he was paired with a design expert, Izzy Housley during his ICS volunteer period under the supervision of Challenges Worldwide. After bouncing off ideas between each other over the period, Abel set out to begin his entrepreneurial journey.
His vision for the Eco-friendly Sunglasses is to help prevent cataracts one pair of sunglasses at a time while creating sustainable jobs through continuous innovation and cutting edge designs and concepts. He also believes in the vast potential of the African continent and seeks to use his brand to inspire individuals to join in exploring and promoting the continent by thinking differently and acting differently.
We caught up with Abel to find out more about his business and how his Challenges Worldwide ICS placement helped him realise his dreams.
CW:Hi Abel, Thank you for taking the time to speak to us about your exciting new venture, The Kingzmen GH. Would you be kind enough to share with our readers some of your inspirations and goals for developing your sunglasses range so that we may inspire more young people to follow their dreams?
AO: It is really great to hear from you and it is quite amazing that i get to have a feature with Challenges Worldwide. I hope I will be able to inspire a lot more young people out there. CW: I understand your inspiration comes from your sisters eye condition. What was your reason for deciding to start an eyewear brand to help tackle this problem?
AO: My main inspiration for starting a business first of all was the reason that I have had a strong urge to be a business owner for a while. So in search of things I was passionate about that I could transform into a business, I decided to focus on my sister’s eye defect and make a business aimed at helping to prevent people from suffering blindness. I did some research around it and discovered that one of the main causes of blindness in Ghana was Cataract and one of the ways to prevent it was by shielding your eyes from the sun. Hence a sunglasses business. Cataract usually occurs in older people in Ghana because they have exposed their eyes to the sun over a long period of time growing up. In my view, its always best to prevent it before it occurs by wearing sunglasses as often as possible. CW: How did you come up with the design of the glasses?
AO: My challenges team mate, Izzy Housley was very helpful in that area. Whenever I come up with a concept in my mind I tell her about it and using her design expertise, she put together something. Generally, the designs have been inspired by popular sunglasses we see people wear around just to ensure that they are trendy with our own special touch of difference. CW: What are the reasons for using Bamboo?
AO:Bamboo was chosen as a result of its strength. In Ghana, it’s used as beams when building storey buildings as a result of its strength and durability. It’s also a plant that grows very quickly compared to wood hence making it a more sustainable eco-friendly source for us. The choice to use bamboo particular came to mind when I read the bamboo bike story from Kumasi which inspired me to use bamboo for my designs. Its worth adding that, the business I worked with was a family oriented and one of the siblings in the family happened to be involved in a similar idea where she made glasses from wood and sold only to her friends. So seeing her designs also helped bring my bamboo concept into perspective. CW: Do you think the Challenges Worldwide ICS programme helped you to be able to develop this business?
AO:Challenges was very instrumental in my success because if not for Challenges I may not have met Izzy and I may have been stuck or delayed at a point in my business. She has been quite helpful and am quite grateful for all the things she thought me with regards to design while we were on the programme. She introduced me to some email template platforms for communicating with customers and suppliers which have been quite helpful. Her insight of how to sell via social media in order to build a presence have also been useful in building our page. My knowledge in negotiations from CMI are also helping me to make some contact with retail outlets which seem positive to take on my product. CW:Finally, what are your long term goals for the business?
Our vision as a brand is to inspire focuses on cataract prevention, one eyewear at a time while creating sustainable jobs through continuous innovation and cutting edge designs and concepts. We also believe in the vast potential of the African continent and seek to inspire individuals to join us in exploring and promoting the African continent using its indigenous products.