Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’

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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My Name

My Name

My Name

A name, many people say, is a map or a signpost – in Uganda, a name tells people your ethnic group or the clan. In some communities, a name tells people the family you come from, the position you occupy in the birth hierarchy (that is to say, if he or she is first- or middle- or last-born) or the circumstances surrounding your birth. In English my name means gift or given. In my mother tongue it means too many letters-Kyogabirwe. It was given to me by my father telling God that you have given me a girl when I already have many girls. This is a given, I cannot change it.

As a young girl, I was proud of my name but as I grew up I begun to hate it- just because of how it sounded. To make it worse, when it is shortened Kyoga, it becomes a name of a lake in Northern Uganda-Lake Kyoga. While in secondary school, I used to admire other students names because they sounded good and had better meaning. As an adult, I have come to appreciate my name as a gift from God and I am proud of it.

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Hon. Miria MatembeEvery year around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 aiming to raise awareness of the challenges, struggles and continuing inequality faced by women worldwide. Thousands of events are organised at international, national and grassroots levels to celebrate women’s history, courage and strength by highlighting key events, milestones and achievements. Actually the month of March is commonly referred to as the  Women’s Month though very few people know about this fact. This is also the time in a year when the  UN under the Commission on the Status of Women holds  its annual convening   to  evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment

The 2014 international women’s day celebrations come at the  critical time when  countries are auditing the anticipated change delivered  by the Millennium Development Goals and setting the next development agenda under the Post2015 Development Framework.  It should be noted that the MDGs have been greatly criticized by women’s rights activists for ignoring critical issues that are central to promoting gender equality  and development.

As part of commemorating this year’s International Women’s day, I participated and coordinated a public dialogue on MDGs and Post 2015 Development Agenda: Room for gender equality organized by Isis-WICCE in partnership with the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University.  It was attended by over 300  people who included university students, lecturers and gender activists. The dialogue was opened by Hon. Miria Matembe, a renowned vocal  gender activist  who regretted that the MDGs have instead slowed down the progress of gender equality and development “before MDGs,  women  were running fast & very vibrant’ but now  women have continued to be in power, serving power and without power” she said.  Hon Matembe also pointed out that MDGs  have  failed to address the critical issues of women such as sexual and reproductive health and violence against women

Likewise, Ms Margaret Kakande who made a presentation on the milestones of MDGs and gender equality expressed concern that little has been achieved for women and girls since 2000 in critical policy areas and actions. She singled out maternal health where many women continue to die while giving birth and regretted that   64% of mothers do not receive any postnatal check-up. She further noted that over 60% of maternal deaths in developing countries are estimated to occur 23 to 48 hours after delivery due to postpartum haemorrhage and hypertensive disorders. She cautioned that if the heath status of women and girls is not improved and maternal deaths checked, the MDGs would have achieved almost nothing for them.

She added that the women who are the care givers suffer poor reproductive health and with the reversal in the prevalence of the HIV/AIDs scourge in Uganda, the situation is of women is critical. Ms Kakande expressed concern that this state of affairs almost reverses any empowerment gains that women would have achieved.

In the sector of education, she noted that school dropout rates for girls especially at primary level have remained high denying them the opportunity to complete the full course of primary schooling which is the first foundation for their empowerment.

In moving forward to the Post 2015 Development Agenda, Isis-WICCE Communications Consultant Archie Luyimbazi warned that if in the last 14 years under the MDGs the plight of women has not been addressed, then the post 2015 stage should devise a plan that is transformational. He urged the women’s movement to seize the opportunity to reflect on what they need to do differently in order to bring about the much desired change for women.

He advised that to be successful in this new front,  Gender Equality and Women’s  Right Activists  should consider changing strategy from the current women’s right’s approach that has faced so much resistance over the years and enter into negotiation and bring on board new actors and energies especially the academia and the young people as well.

A cross section of participantsDuring the discussion participants emphasized that post 2015 development agenda should focus on social transformation of women with emphasis on factors that will give them more time to participate in the economic activities because when you achieve economic rights, other rights will follow. “We cannot achieve sustainable gender equality without economic empowerment of women” said a participant

Young people were also urged to be actively engaged in all development process because they  have a greater stake in shaping the future and time is now for  them  to rise and mobilize for social change, good governance and gender equality. They were advised to effectively utilize the power of social media as a tool

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A child Mother  with her daughter during 2011 Isis-WICCE PEace Expo in KaseseGender based violence is a global problem which mainly affects women and girls. It cuts across age, class, level of education and social status. A report by WHO, 2013 indicates that more than a third of all women worldwide are victims of physical or sexual violence. Uganda like many other countries violence against women is on the increase. The Uganda Demographic and health survey report indicates that 56% of women have experienced physical and sexual violence.

According to the Police Crime Report 2011,defilement was among the leading crimes in the country with a total of 7,690 cases investigated in the year 2011, compared to 7,564 cases in 2010 and 7360 in 2009. Incidences of Death through Domestic Violence investigated by the police in 2011 were 181cases compared to 159 cases in 2010. Partial Police results in 2013 indicate that 72 people were killed as a result of domestic violence; 2,461 victims and 1,339 cases of domestic violence reported between January and April 2013.

The above statistics show that gender based violence and especially sexual violence is still a big problem to Uganda despite the increased legislation to address it. This therefore calls for more concerted and continuous efforts from both the state and non state actors.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is one the international campaigns that aim at raising awareness and demanding for action against gender based violence. As such during this period, Isis-WICCE will be holding a Peace Exposition, a creative platform that brings together a broad spectrum of community members to dialogue on unique community concerns but also identifying GBV as a critical issue that continues to impede development. The Peace Exposition has become a space where women and men interface with their leaders and other policy makers to demand for response and implementation of post conflict reconstruction with emphasis on women’s dignity and bodily integrity. This year the Peace Expositon will be held in Kotido district, Karamoja region theme under the theme ‘Healthy Families for Peaceful Communities.’

Karamoja Region presents a unique picture and the prevailing situation and statistics on sexual and gender based violence is alarming. The report by Refugee Law Project (2012) on Gender Realities in Kotido District indicates that 96% women have experienced some form of violence which exposes them to sexual and reproductive health complications.

The Peace Exposition will provide tangible take home for women in Karamoja through cervical cancer screening as well as dialogues between grassroots communities (men and women) and their leaders on sexual and gender based violence and women’s participation. The dialogues will specifically focus on the role of a healthy family as an important element in ensuring peace in homes and communities.
I therefore call upon and encourage everyone to join the campaign to end sexual and gender based violence. TIME TO ACT IS NOW. What are you going to End SGVB in your community?

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