Archive for November 18th, 2011

Isis-WICCE  2011/12 International Exchange Programme Institute opened on Monday November 14,  in Kampala with an open forum  focusing on  the role women in  governance at Hotel Africana.

The Institute runs annually and brings together women from different countries in conflict and post areas around the world.  This year the institute has brought 34 women from nine countries ie Pakistan, India, Nepal, Cote D’Ivoire, Tunisia, Central African Republic, DRC, Zimbabwe and Uganda. The theme of this years institute is strengthening women’s potential in leadership and peace building. For the next two weeks the participants will be taken through the feminist approaches to technology, sexual and reproductive health and rights and research methods and documentation of women’s realities

In her welcoming remarks, Isis-WICCE Executive Director, Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, informed the participants that the aim of institute is to enhance the capacity of women leaders in conflict and post conflict countries as well as enable them to tell their stories of conflict because quite often the world does not know what happens to women during conflict.

She also noted that, there are statistics about the atrocities committed on women in conflict but  the stories and voices behind the statistics  miss out. Isis-WICCE   brings women to tell the stories behind the statistics and the resilience of the women.

Isis-WICCE has trained over 400 women from different countries and equipped them with knowledge and skills in peace building and conflict transformation.

Ochieng also highlighted the achievements of the trained women over the past years.

“ Women who have gone through the Institute have been able to take up leadership positions   in international agencies like United Nations; donors agencies while others were able replicate the skills by establishing community based organisations,” she said.

She also acknowledged the contribution of partners and Isis-WICCE board members who have contributed in different ways to make the institute what it is.

Harriet Nabukeera Musoke, the Exchange Programme Coordinator presented a photo gallery to show the impact of conflict on women and how the institute has been able to respond to challenges facing women in conflict.

Experience Sharing from Tunisia and DRC

Henda Chennaoui,  a participant from Tunisia  shared the role of women in the recent Tunisian revolution where over 200 people especially women lost their lives amongst them was a six months  old baby who was hit by police teargas canister.

She further noted that Tunisia is a mix of Sharia and secular law and the new government is in the process of drafting a new constitution which is hoped to protect Tunisia from  extreme and radical Islamic sharia law which suffocates women’s

Henda pointed to challenges Tunisian women face including no succession and inheritance rights as well as right to divorce.

“47% of women are unemployed as opposed to 20% of men. The few women who manage to work are paid meagre salaries as low as 8 Euros per month.”

She concluded with a statement that “Without equality there cannot be democracy and liberty has no price.”

Likewise Angele Bahige, coordinator for Appui aux Initiatives de Bien-etre Familial [AIBEF] from DRC also shared the experiences from her country especially on sexual violence in South Kivu where she hails from.

Most cases of rape, she said, are happening in villages and this is perpetuated by regular army, armed gangs and men in military uniforms.

“Worse still, there  are no services for rape victims  and the available medical team to  assist  is  limited in numbers and can only found in towns,” Bahige said.

She reported that rape is a shameful act and most victims are rejected by their immediate family members while others runaway and remain silent hence living in trauma for the rest of their lives.

“The bold ones who manage to come up and tell their stories have been supported to recover and live normal lives again by offering livelihood support and counselling,” said Bahige.

She expressed her disappointment with the UN mission is Congo which is  not doing much to assist women victims because “they come in when everything has already happened, take pictures of  naked women who have been raped and ask question and go away.”

She called for the UN stop being just “observing force to intervening force.

Bahige pointed out that the Judiciary system is very slow in addition to lack of money to facilitate their cases.

“It is only human rights organisations that are offering some assistance for the women to access justice,” she said, “Although women have gone through horrendous and traumatic experiences, they have been able to stand  and use the  God  given energy  and have remained strong with the support of women groups who are helping them to heal.”

Bahige called support and mobilisation of women ahead of DRC elections due to take place later this month.

“There is no woman parliamentarian in Bukavu despite women being the majority at 57%. To them a woman is only supposed to be in the kitchen and therefore she should not leave her home and work kilometres away from her home and later alone stand for office,” she said.

Dr. Thelam Awori, Isis-WICCE Board president emphasised that the institute is the  core component of Isis-WICCE programmes  because it takes care bringing out the voices and realities of women.

She called upon all the participants to commit themselves to become change agents in their communities

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