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Mission & Vision

Empowering women affected by war with the tools to rise out of extreme poverty.

Our vision is to build social, economic and political equality for women and girls in Africa


Rooted in the conviction that women should be active stakeholders in defining their own development strategies, AWR developed a comprehensive graduation approach model in partnership with the local community in Northern Uganda – both in the permanent communities and the refugee settlement camps. We focus on women because not only do they carry the heaviest post-conflict burden, but women are central to the daily work of repairing fractured communities. When women are actively involved in decision-making, be it post-war reconstruction or civic action, their voices ensure that vital societal priorities are upheld.


AWR works alongside local, community-based groups to provide the capital, skills and education needed to break the cycle of extreme poverty. Our programs build on initiatives that the women themselves have started. The program developed locally and organically in response to what women identified would help them and their families climb out of poverty – access to capital, literacy, skills training, girls’ education. The type of holistic approach is often referred to as a graduation model, which across the globe has generated strong evidence to reduce poverty sustainably. Our programs have also demonstrated this type of evidence via our Participatory Impact Assessments (PIAs) and show strong demand from local leaders to continue and grow our impactful programs.

Graduation approach programs created within communities, by communities, break the cycle of extreme poverty. We know that the extreme poor can become financially secure and drivers of development.

Investing in long-term programs equals long-term results: capital + skills + education can create the impact needed to end generational poverty.

Our Community

African Women Rising believes in a just and equal world where all people have the opportunity and right to live their lives with dignity. We began working in Northern Uganda in 2006 during the Cessation of Hostilities agreement. Add in 4-5 prescient 4-5 stats on Uganda and the impact of war on quality of life, economy, gender equality, etc.

Refugee Status

Uganda is currently hosting the highest number of refugees in the country’s history, and is receiving simultaneous emergency influxes from South Sudan, DRC and Burundi. According to UNICEF, Uganda is host to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

Child Refugees

It is estimated that XMM children live as refugees in N. Uganda due to the war in South Sudan, which began in 2014 – seeing more than 1 million South Sudanese refugees have crossing the border into Northern Uganda.

For the last 15 years, African Women Rising has worked in partnership with vulnerable communities across Northern Uganda to help change these statistics. Our programs focus on providing people with access to capital to be able to invest in farming or businesses. We work in partnership with farmers to sustainably improve yields and reduce vulnerability to environmental challenges. We provide adult education to empower people to take action in their communities. And we partner with local organizations, such as the Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR to be of service in the areas with the greatest need.

Key amongst the challenges faced by the newly arrived refugees is access to food. Due to lack of resources, UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has limited rations per individual and cannot guarantee long term adequate quantities of the required food for the refugees. The influx of the refugees into the northern district of Lamwo has increased the shortage of foodstuffs within the local community and if not addressed could spark further tensions between the host and refugee communities. As of June 2021, there are more than 57,000 refugees in Palabek refugee settlement – 84% are women and children.

It is a complex situation. AWR is working in partnership with the office of the Prime minister, the UN and other implementing organizations to provide support to the refugee population, alongside support to the host communities. Our work in Palabek settlement camp includes Permagarden training for at least 6,000 households, Girls Education program for 750 girls, 6 adult literacy centers and 15 microfinance groups.

Our Team

The African Women Rising staff, board, advisors, and directors are made up of individuals who are passionate about global women’s empowerment. Our board members and advisors are experts in various fields. Our staff in Uganda are from the communities where they work and their experience is critical to our success.

Executive Director and Founder – Linda Eckerbom Cole

Linda, a Swedish national with Berber roots, has spent most of her adult life living between Uganda and the US. She began her development career managing complex emergency operations in conflict and post-conflict areas of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea- Bissau and Uganda. She has extensive fieldwork experience in community needs assessments, preventive health interventions, and small-scale farming. She has published expertise on the re-integration of women back home after war, most notably in the book, “Women and Wars – Women, Girls, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration.” Linda has a Master’s degree in Humanitarian Assistance from the Friedman school of Nutrition, Tufts University and is the recipient of the 2014 Leah Horowitz Humanitarian Award.

African Women Rising was established in 2006 with a vision to build social, economic and political equality for women and girls in Africa. These underlying values are realized through programs that enable and empower women in the conflict-affected region of Northern Uganda to rebuild their lives through increased food production, natural resource management, financial security, and education. AWR’s approach is based on a belief, as well as firsthand experience, that when women are actively involved in decision-making, be it post-war reconstruction or small-scale civic responsibility, their voices ensure that vital societal priorities are incorporated.

Beginning with 5 groups of women (150 people) who were directly affected by the conflict in Northern Uganda 15 years ago, AWR has since grown to directly serve more than 20,000 women and their households. This expansion has been based on conversations with participants and the larger community, which led AWR to initiate adult literacy and girls’ education programs alongside its post-conflict recovery agricultural and microfinance efforts to help sustain and strengthen the peace.

Meet the Team

Director of Programs – Prossy

Director of Administration – Myriam

Senior Management Team

Palabek Resettlement Camp Team

Community team

Board of Directors & Advisory Board

Thomas Cole
Brook Eiler
Walter Ladwa
Joy Margolis
Krisitin McWilliams
Carrie Randolph
Bonita Birungi
Hilal Elver
Dyan Mazurana
John O. Niles
Betty Ochan
Tobias Stillman
Kofi Taha
Jordan Tappero

Our Partners

Our network of partners are dedicated to empowering women with life changing support – capital, skills training and education.

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