An (Extra)Ordinary Wooden Spoon

Women in Uganda face an uphill battle. Uganda is still a patriarchal society where men make all the decisions and usually without consulting the women. Also, women have little rights to property, including land. If a woman attempts to exert her independence, there is a chance she could lose it all and an even bigger chance of domestic violence. In such a risky environment, women must find a secret way to protect themselves and their children.

How can we better understand these dark, unspoken, and dangerous issues women face? How can design break down cultural barriers to help gain better insights?

By taking a familiar, everyday kitchen tool and adding an additional affordance — a secret compartment for life-saving assets — a unique conversation emerged. The altered spoon initiated a rare dialogue about the impossible challenges Ugandan women face.

This spoon is one of a kind. It wasn’t intended for mass market and no spoons were left in Uganda. It wasn’t made to solve any of the many problems women face. It was intended to open up a space for dialogue around the complex root issues before attempting to create a solution that might only scratch the surface.