Women's empowerment through Bark cloth products
Women History Month
In a stiff and stressed economy of a continent like Africa bundled with an unpredictable future engulfed by uncertainties like the COVID-19 pandemic, floods, droughts, floods, conflicts and climate change, a woman’s priority becomes the need to put food on the table. As her happiness can only lie in having a contented family. But many women in Africa lack formal education as many were deprived of this opportunity while being tied to a cultural belief that women are less valuable than men. And they can only earn respect and superiority while being under the umbrella of men in the name of being married. Women have always lagged in developing themselves to reach and most likely compete with the male counterparts.
Ugandan Women stitching the Tree Bark
Empowerment and gender equality as basic human rights have always been the backbone of women’s freedom, financial resilience and self-reliance in Africa and the world at large. This hasn’t been any different from the goals and objectives of Afri-root collective whose aim is to support and ensure that women of Africa achieve their goals as they are the pillars of society. The organization acts as a platform where women sell their hand-crafted products which are majorly made from bark trees. It further ensures that women receive training aimed at building their skills, creativity and confidence to stand out in the world. Being founded by an African woman who has a great understanding of the challenges that many women go through, the organization has improved the lives of several women, especially in Uganda.
For generations, barkcloth design and making have been in existence especially in central parts of Uganda since they are culturally tied to this region yet, this untapped resource has been male- dominated. However, through Afri-root collective’s initiative to bring women to the forefront by selling their products, women have embarked on putting their skills and creativity to work by making and designing high-quality products out of bark cloth material to bridge the growing interest in bark cloth in the art and fashion industry. The products have a high level of proficiency, are styled with careful consideration of people’s needs and are environmentally friendly. The pride of protecting nature’s gift, passion, creativity and efforts that they put in have led to them making durable and satiable products that are desired by many clients.
The modern and unique designs created have neutralized the negative effects which globalization has on indigenous culture but instead heightened the economic value of bark cloth in fashion hence opening doors for women to tap into the unexplored business venture as well as compete favourably in the stiff market. On this accord, many women have gained rightful skills, reached their goals, achieved financial autonomy and have clear expectations of what they want to be in life. Furthermore, women have been able to commit to capacity building, strengthen their social capital, pursue meaningful work and contribute positively to their economies. Therefore, continued support of these women can be a key to unlocking African wealth.