Jean-Christabel Asipkwe – Uganda

Encouraging Rural Women Leaders – a Key to Development

Jean-Christabel Asipkwe (41) holds a masters degree in public administration. Committed to empowering communities, especially women, she began working for CEFORD (Community Empowerment for Rural Development) in 2003. Today she serves as the organization's Executive director.

 Operating in several districts of the West Nile, CEFORD focuses on sustainable livelihoods (agriculture, functional adult literacy, skills development for youth and disaster risk reduction), primary education, good governance, community health, and organizational development. It is an organization partner with OXFAM in implementing food security and livelihood emergency programs in South Sudanese refugee camps.

In all of her work at CEFORD, Jean-Christabel uses the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), a community-led empowerment methodology aimed at creating gender justice. Her expertise and passion are evident in the leadership she brings to CEFORD's mobilization, adult literacy, gender mainstreaming, and livelihood improvement activities. She has demonstrated perseverance in improving the lives of rural women and youth through various creative approaches. Innovative actions include a school link creation, reactivation of school clubs, child-to-child monitoring clusters, a children's parliament, child talent day exhibitions, role model talks, etc. With her guidance, women have started savings groups, adult classes for better household hygiene and sanitation practices, and have become increasingly involved in development programs and processes. CEFORD has worked with them in challenging existing power structures and promotes development skills for individual life and livelihood planning.

By the end of 2013, CEFORD had reached directly 7278 persons (4424 women and 2854 men). There are three key areas of change in the life of the members: a more equal division of labor, with men accepting that women can own land and other properties; a decrease in alcohol consumption; increased investment in the education of children.

Most recently, Jean-Christabel has worked hard with the Moyo Parliement to mobilize the people of Obongi community to contribute to the purchase of a community ambulance. She keeps on participating in disaster risk reduction and response as well as humanitarian needs for South Sudanese women refugees to help bring a positive life change.