Areas of work

This project helps women who have been caught in Uganda’s corrupt prison system

The team from Make Women Smile posing for a photo

Make Women Smile is a women’s group in Masaka that supports what might be the most vulnerable beneficiary groups the Uganda Marathon has ever seen. Women who are currenly serving, or who have previously served, a prison sentance. With a corrupt legal system that is strongly biased towards wealth and is dominated by men. Ugandan women often fall victim to wrong convictions and lengthy jail sentences due to not being able to afford bail, or sadly the necessary bribe to the judge.

Make Women Smile take time to speak to these women, both providing vital counselling as well as links to human rights organisation where necessary. They also help to empower the women by teaching them vocational craft skills whilst in prison and supplying them with basic hygiene supplies that they would otherwise not have access to.

Having built up a great relationship with the prison officers, the Make Women Smile team are in a unique position to hear the stories of the women behind bars and the stigma they face when they are released. They hear extremely familiar stories of the women being immediately shunned by their partners and family when convicted of a crime. Some, due to a complete lack of support, are forced to raise children behind bars on the meagre provisions supplied by the national prison service.

The wardens of the women’s prison in Masaka recognise the needs of their inmates and are even known to compassionately help provide extra provisions for the most vulnerable women inmates. They strongly welcome the support of Make Women Smile, the only charity in Masaka that focuses on this particular vulnerable group.

In 2018, Uganda Marathon runners fundraised for this project to launch a program that mulches banana leaves to make sanitary pads to be donated to the women and crafts to fund support and rehabiliation.

Now, we would like to take this to the next stage.

2020 Goals for Make Women Smile

  1. To save 670,000 UGX ($181 USD) a month to establish a safe way house for vulnerable women released from prison by the end of 2021
  2. To create two jobs for women ex-prisoners by the end of 2020

How your fundraising will help us achieve the goals

 Runnners in 2016 launching the sanitary pad program that supplied women in prison with free sanitary pads.

With your support, we want to provide two dairy cows to recently released women who, after training and supervision, will gain employment by taking care of the cows.

As the project expands, the projected profits of 670,000 UGX ($181 USD) from selling milk will be used to create a safe in-between house for women recently released from prison.

This will provide a place for the women to recuperate, where Make Women Smile can offer advice and vocational skills through members and previous beneficiaries. This safe haven is an essential provision for these women and their children who make up one of the most neglected and vulnerable groups in Uganda.

Your Legacy Day During the Uganda Marathon Week

In the morning of the legacy day, you’ll be making reusable sanitary pads using the machinary that was fundraised for by previous Uganda Marathon runners. You’ll work alongside the women at Make Women Smile and learn about their organisation.

In the afternoon, you’ll have a chance to take the pads to the women’s prison to donate to them. You’ll then learn crafts from the women there and spend an afternoon hearing their stories.*

Legacy day activities are subject to change at any time, this is not a final plan.

Local Hero Profile

Mrs Namirembe Shadia  the director of Make women Smile is a hard working jolly lady married with three children and she lives in Kitabazi village. 

Given that Shadia is mum and at the same time doubles as an active business lady who is able to help her husband  support the family by working and earning some income and having lived in Kitabazi for several years, Shadia noticed a high number of stay at home mums whose husbands did not allow to engage in any form of work or income generating activity. 

So with a few friends Shadia founded the Make Women Smile empowerment programme with the core idea of getting professional and business women to uplift the unemployed stay at home mums  by offering free services to them. This approach saw the active business women helping the unemployed stay at home mums to also start up similar business by mentoring them and giving them some start up capital. Along the way some of the partners left because they were not earning any income as it was all about offering free services. So only three partners remained but shadia is happy because they are still able to realize the dream of transforming the lives of the unemployed stay at home mums for the better.