Posts Tagged ‘Ivory Coast’

In  July 2011, I was interacted with  two women leaders from Ivory Coast  who were on a cross cultural learning and exchange visit in Uganda. Due to the post election violence that Ivory Coast descended into late last year, the purpose of their  visit was for the women to share their experience  as well as  acquiring  knowledge  and best practices  on how best to engage in post conflict  reconstruction and recovery.

Ivory Coast experienced post election violence following the disputed outcomes of the November 2010 Presidential elections between Alassane Outtara and Laurent Gbagbo. Alassane Ouatarra won the election but the incumbent Laurent Gbagabo refused to give up power and had to be removed by force; but after months of violence between the army and pro-Outtara forces.

During the violence, people lost their lives and property as villages were set ablaze leaving many people homeless. At least 3000 people were killed in the postelection violence.

Pauline sharing her experience during the dialogue

During their visit, Pauline Yao, the Chair Person; National level Femmes Cote d’Ivoire Experience (FCIEX) and Julia Gnekpato, Coordinator, Restoration of Human Rights Foundation presented video clips and photographs showing the extent of violence that civilians in Ivory Coast faced.

This was during the  roundtable discussion on Ivory Coast and women and post conflict reconstruction.  Yao emotionally recounted the moments when she was attacked by armed men who tied her and wanted to kill her. The moving story of her narrow escape from death was a story of many Ivorians. Yao  was forced out of her house and rebels occupied it. She sought refugee in her office and for twenty days she could not get out.

Julia Gnekpato  also shared her experience of how she lost everything.

I have nobody left. You are all I have.”Gnekpato said in a very emotional moment.

Julia in a very emotional moment while sharing her story

However these women are leading efforts to rebuild their communities from the ruins of violence. They told of documenting stories of sexual violence in different communities. In particular, the women narrated to the participants a story of a 60 year old woman who was raped by a 13 years old boy during the turmoil. To such women, regaining dignity takes a long time and a lot of efforts from different actors.

The women now carry out home visits, one-on-one counseling, community sensitization, drama and sports as a way of bringing communities back together.

After their presentation, Julia and Pauline received words of comfort and encouragement from the members of the Ugandan civil society to continue with their peace building work. They also got advice on several strategies to use in their peace building work and post conflict reconstruction.

Isis-WICCE brought these women to Ugandan to enable the civil society to understand what struggles other women on the continent are faced with. Harriet Musoke from Isis-WICCE said that sharing such experiences from other countries which have gone through the same experience such as Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda enables women understand how to approach post conflict recovery.

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