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Archive for August, 2014

In July 2014, I attended a training on creative writing. As you all know writing is a daunting task and it involves serious thinking, reflection, putting down on word, sentence or phrase and you pause a bit, then write again and the process goes on and on. This training inspired me to write this short story which actually was part of the assignments during the training. I swear, if I had not attended this training, it story would never find itself on this blog.

 

IramDeep in my sleep, I was, and my mother sneaked away leaving me behind at my Grandmother’s home deep in the village. On waking up I was told that my mother has gone to the shops and she is coming back. I waited for her to come back but all in vain until it was dark. It is from then, that I started to sense something and I started crying, refused to eat and sleep. Shut it up! Your mother is not here! my grandmother shouted at me. She scared hell out of me and I momentarily stopped crying and sleep carried me to the dreamland. My grandmother is a no nonsense woman, even up to now she is a tough women.

While at my grandmothers’ home, two major incidences happened that I remember vividly. The first one was when my grandmother she decided to take me to a nearby by Nursery school at a local church. This was my first day at school and the classes were conducted in the church and it was an open hall. I remember, it was a windy morning and you could hear the sweet sound wind blowing through the trees.

It so happened that very morning, the children had to go out in the field for physical education. ‘Children, remove your clothes, it is time for physical education’ the teacher said. All the children started removing their clothes and running outside in the field. Poor me, I did not know that we only removed dresses and remained with pants. I removed all the clothes including my pant and happily I ran outside to join other children in the field. As soon as I got out of the classroom, all the children started staring at me and I did not know what was wrong with me. Ooh, I was still very young and still in shock of the new environment- remember this was not home and the environment was completely different from the one I knew. I was still lost.

On seeing me completely naked, the teacher quickly run towards me and told me to go back and put on my pants. I went back in the classroom and picked my pants and put them and joined the rest of the children.

The second incidence was during Christmas time; my mother brought for me a very beautiful pink dress with beads allover and white shoes. I remember dressed in a pink dress with a web of nets and beads and my white shoes that were whiter than milk, I looked like a princess. All the children at the church surrounded me and started touching my dress. I felt so uneasy but at the same time felt elevated because I was completely different from all of them. Inside within me, I did not want the church service to end because I knew when we go back home, I will be told to remove the dress which I didn’t want to do. Finally, the church service ended and we went back home and I had remove my lovely dress which I did not want to do.

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Fourteen years ago, UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 which recognizes women’s leadership in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building, as well as the gendered impact of war on women and girls. As part of promoting women’s participation as mandated by UNSCR 1325 and other international human rights instruments that promote women’s leadership and participation in decision making, Isis –WICCE has been conducting leadership training institution for women from conflict and post to upscale their knowledge, skills and enthusiasm towards making 1325 a reality.

The 2013/14 Institute brought together 35 women leaders Nepal, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Myanmar and Uganda on a three phased training under the theme theme ‘Women’s Agency in Peace building and Human Security’.

During the last phase which will take place from August 6 to 12, 2014 in Thailand, women leaders are expected to share the findings their research studies which were conducted in the second phase. Using new knowledge and skills acquired from the first phase of the training in 2013, participants critically analysed women’s participation in peace building and decision making processes as stipulated in the UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

Participants from Nepal analyzed women’s participation in Local Peace Committees Local Peace Committee (LPC) that are formed at the level of a district, municipality, town or village and requires that 33% of its membership are women. The work of the LPC among others include facilitating joint, inclusive peace making and peace building processes within its own context, facilitating reconciliation process at the local level between two or more parties to conflict, conflict-affected victims, and other stakeholders.

According to the study, 50% of the study districts (10) LPC had been able to achieve 33 percent or more representation of women in current LPC. Although the numbers seem to paint a positive image, it was discovered that women were there only in the name of inclusion and this has been described by feminists as the “just add women and stir” approach that is present in some of the UNSCR 1325 implementation efforts today. The notion of “just add women and stir” completely instrumentalizes women’s lives and fails to challenge patriarchal systems and structures which have consistently discriminated and marginalized women.

The study further revealed that the 50% of women in the LPC as drawn from the marginalized population such as the indigenous women, the disabled and are considered weak and have lesser capacity to lead/argue on women issues.

Likewise, in Uganda, institute participants analyzed the impact of women’s participation within the Uganda police force. The Uganda Gender Policy 2007, emphasizes that all government recruitments should have 30% of women. The Uganda Police has tried to fulfill this requirement but in most cases, the percentage is hardly never reached because gendered perspective of police which is considered to be a masculine institution as well as set recruitment standards which requires the Ordinary level certificate with an emphasis of science subjects (which in most cases are also considered to be masculine subjects) as the minimum requirement. That notwithstanding, the Uganda Police Force has 5951 Female Officers and only 293 are at a senior level rank.

Numbers aside, just like in Nepal’s Local Peace Committees, where women are considered as weak members, in Uganda Police Force, the women are also considered as weak officers and very few women are in decision making positions. For example, out of 129 District Police Commissioners (DPCs), only 5 are women.
In the two countries, a trend of keeping women in inactive posts where they do not get opportunities to meaningfully participate in the decision making process was observed. Despite this situation, the two studies agree that women are playing a critical role and their leadership brings unique values and perspectives to peace building and that is why Isis-WICCE has continued to organise leadership institutes for women leaders to ensure that women’s leadership is not only about the numbers but also the competencies to lead and hold policy makers accountable.

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