EMPOWERING WOMEN FROM WITHIN

United Women's Platform for Empowerment and Development

Working With United Women’s Platform For Empowerment and Development to Help Disadvantaged Women in Kampala

A very compassionate and enterprising woman, Brenda Nakalembe, started an organization in 2009, called United Women’s Platform for Empowerment and Development (UWOPED) serving single, illiterate mothers in the village of Nsambya in Kampala, Uganda. UWOPED offers various training and educational programmes to help these women build practical skills and capabilities. UWOPED’s expressed goal is to transform these women “from hopelessness to a state of productive excellence”. In the fall of 2012 Brenda Nakalembe learned the Transcendental Meditation technique, and based on her own positive experience with the practice, decided to begin offering it as one of her training programmes for her women. In 2013 African Women and Girls Organization and UWOPED collaborated with Dr. Leslee Goldstein, USA to evaluate the benefits of the Transcendental Meditation technique in the lives of these women. The study measured the effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique on self-efficacy (one’s perceived ability to deal with challenges in life, and a critical component of empowerment), perceived stress, and mental and physical quality of life. Brenda explained how she came to take part in this research project:

aboutus-sidebar-nakalembe“First I experienced the changes in my own life when I learned TM, how I could deal with stress so much better, and then, when the first group of our mothers learned I was very inspired by the positive changes that I saw happening in their lives. Before, they couldn’t think clearly, they were angry and frustrated and found it so hard to take care of themselves and their children. Then, with TM they started to be more responsible in their lives. They started feeling less angry, less anxious, and less fearful. They had less arguments and conflicts with their family and neighbors, and with less stress they had fewer headaches. That’s when I decided to take part in this research project. Others have approached me to do research projects with my mothers and I refused, but our experience with TM was so positive, I was very willing to take part in this research project.” — BRENDA NAKALEMBE, April, 2013

Research on the Transcendental Meditation Technique and Empowering Women from Within

The results of this study showed that the Transcendental Meditation technique can be considered a practical programme for developing empowerment in the lives of mothers in Uganda, by developing their sense of personal competency, or self-efficacy; by reducing perceived stress; and by enhancing mental and physical quality of life. These results indicate improved ability to cope, take initiative, and persevere in effectively handling life’s challenges.

Goldstein, L.R. in press

Goldstein, L.R. in press

Eight Months Later…. UWOPED Director Brenda Nakalembe explained that implementation of the Transcendental Meditation technique as one of the training programmes she offers to mothers at UWOPED, has enhanced all of the other training programmes she offers. She shared these impressions of the success of the TM training:

“Before offering TM we had some success with our training programmes for the mothers, but had to work hard to inspire and engage them in activities to better themselves, and often they would not continue because of being depressed or unable to function in their lives. Now, with the addition of the TM training I see that mothers are experiencing greater emotional stability, less anger, clearer thinking, happiness and well-being, and they are more motivated and engaged in taking care of themselves and their children. It is quite remarkable, and they report that their families are more harmonious and that they have less conflict with their neighbors. Seeing changes in their neighbors has brought more and more women to UWOPED to take part in all of our trainings, especially the TM training.”

To date, over 650 mothers have learned the TM technique and over 200 of their children…

What the Mothers Have to Say:

“Before TM I was getting angry so easily and fighting and acting any way that I felt in order to get relieved of anger; but now I’m more peaceful and have self-control and get along better with people.” (NS)

“Being a single mom, I had a lot of stress, because my child got sick often and I couldn’t take care of her or pay the house rent; and now that I have TM I am feeling better, less stressed, and started working selling mangoes and taking better care of my daughter.” (NC)

“Before TM my health was not good because I was so stressed and not working, and would quarrel and fight with my husband; and now I am feeling better, no longer stressed, and I feel peaceful and happy because I have a good job and I’m working.” (NS)

“Before TM I was tired because of family responsibilities with my husband and children, but now life she is much better. I am now rested and happy with my family, doing hairdressing training, and want to have my own salon.” (AJ)

TM Clubs for Girls and Boys

With over 200 children who have learned the TM technique, UWOPED and AWAGO are now launching the TM Clubs for Girls and Boys. This will allow the children to enjoy coming together to enjoy group meditation and to participate in after-school knowledge programmes and activities designed for their gender group. This will give them the opportunity, at a young age, to develop and grow in their own unique and positive qualities as boys and girls, and thereby help to strengthen and balance their roles in society to allow gender inequalities to naturally dissipate. Children who practice the TM technique feel a greater sense of well-being, security, and stability within themselves, which naturally allows them to develop greater confidence, self-esteem, and happiness, as the basis for greater balance in their relationships.

What the Children Have to Say:

“Since I started meditation, I no longer have fear in answering questions in class and I have more peace with my family members.  I am no longer shy and have good communication with my classmates.” (SD, age 15)

“I used to get sick all the time but now am so happy that I don’t get sick as I used to.  I am looking healthier.  I don’t miss going to school.  I also do better in my soccer game at school.” (KM, age 10)

“Meditation has really improved my behavior. I used to be selfish at school and nobody liked me but now I am a happy free girl whom everyone likes to be friends with.” (NH, age 14)

“Meditation has helped me improve my relationships with my fellow students at school and also my parents have remarked on a change in my behavior at home–I am more helpful. “(NS, age 12)

“When I meditate I feel very relaxed it makes my mind so clear throughout the day.” (KB, age 15)

“I enjoy meditation so much because it settles my active mind and after meditation, I continue to feel relaxed through the whole day.”  (KA, age 14)

“When I meditate, I feel inner calmness and after my meditation I am more energetic and better in whatever I do.” (SA, age 10)

Benefits for Youth

 

  • 21% increase in high school graduation rate Education 133 (4): 495-500, 2013
  • 10% improvement in test scores and GPA Education 131: 556–565, 2011
  • Increased attendance and decreased suspensions for high school students Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1:10, 2003
  • Reduced ADHD symptoms and symptoms of other learning disorders Mind & Brain: The Journal of Psychiatry 2 (1): 73-81, 2011
  • Increased intelligence and creativity Intelligence 29: 419-440, 2001
  • 40% reduction in psychological distress, including stress, anxiety and depression American Journal of Hypertension 22(12): 1326-1331, 2009
  • Reduction in teacher burnout and perceived stress Permanante Journal 18 (1): 19-23, 2014

Education 133 (4):495-501, 2013

Benefits for Women

 

  • Reduced flashbacks and bad memories Military Medicine 176 (6): 626-630, 2011
  • Greater resistance to stress Psychosomatic Medicine 35: 341–349, 1973
  • Twice the effectiveness of conventional approaches for reducing alcoholism and substance abuse Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 13-87, 1994
  • 42% decrease in insomnia Journal of Counseling and Development 64: 212-215, 1985
  • Twice as effective as other relaxation techniques for decreasing trait anxiety Journal of Clinical Psychology 45(6): 957–974, 1989
  • Improved quality of life Military Medicine 176 (6): 626-630, 2011

Physiology & Behavior 35: 591–595, 1985

Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957–974, 1989