In the past, it was a disgrace for a woman to be involved in fishing but this is changing and in Mukono some women have taken the initiative to break this taboo. Although they are doing this amidst significant challenges and the goal of sustaining themselves in their household economy.
From time immemorial here in Buganda it was forbidden to find a woman engaged in fishing, as when it comes to catching fish, they wait for them on land and then head them to the markets for sale.
However, nowadays, women have become more involved in fishing than men. At the Mbale landing site in Mukono district is where we met Sharifa Nantongo, one of the women who decided to be actively involved in fishing.
Nantongo said that she started small using hooks to get fish which she hawked to different households, as time went she managed to buy a fishing boat with her little savings and other additional money borrowed from their Katosi women development trust.
Nantongo who is a single mother further added three engine boats so she is able fulfill her responsibilities and she has no regrets about abandoning the tradition of women not getting involved in fishing.
Besides her success, she noted challenges while doing fishing such as UPDF’s hostility in the guise of fighting illegal fishing. She said the officers arrested them and detained them without police and to release them they had to surrender their catch or pay millions of money to them.
She is not the only woman in fishing, as some of her colleagues have even formed the Katosi women Development trust, but they are going through untold challenges in doing this work.
They decried the plots on the lakes being given out to the rich, they are restricted to fish in such portions, many of their colleagues and workers have been arrested and beaten. These cried out to the government to withdraw the army from the lake as the new law which was signed by the president states.
The women fishermen also want to be given spaces in the lake as was done for men because they can too practice cage fishing, especially if they do everything in a cooperative manner.
Kange Veronica is an advocate for women’s rights, and wants the government to educate the women in fishing about the new signed fisheries and aquaculture law, Kange urged the women to be brave enough not allow their catch to be auctioned or burnt without a court order.
Isebaidu William, the head of fisheries in Mukono, told us that the obstacle to educating the fishermen about the law is because they are still waiting from the authorities to give a directive.
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