As we continue working towards improving women’s engagement and influence on electoral processes with the support of Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), The Peace Centre through the Community Development Office and National Women Council structures mobilized the community members to participate in the awareness and accountability dialogues at the community level in the three Districts of Arua, Kassanda and Kapelebyong.
Community awareness and accountability sessions are platforms that provide opportunities for people at the grassroots to interact with their leaders on key pertinent issues in relation to service delivery. Accountability is about involving citizens and communities in the processes of governance so that the decisions and actions of the people and organizations with power are made public and can be questioned. This not only improves governance but also leads to better service delivery and to community empowerment.
The dialogues aimed at creating space for community members to discuss issues of concern in the ongoing electoral processes in their areas and to make policy recommendations for action by the different stakeholders. The Peace Centre also used the platform to identify women leaders within the community that can participate as violence monitors, election monitors and the youth to serve as data analysts.
In Arua District, the dialogue was conducted in River Oli division, Osu cell, Arua municipality. Some of the issues raised included voter bribery, empty promises to voters, threats and intimidation from candidates.
“Please continue educating us, our elections here are terrible! May be when you come and educate us they will be peaceful” – Clara
“I am happy the project has come! I expect more peace in elections this time, Last time my eye was badly hit and injured during campaign time yet I am living positively for 25 years now” – Lucy
“We as women have been used as ladders in voting, they open windows and greet every one during campaign time but when we vote for them they close the windows and pretend not to know us, we should stop voting for such people” – Rebecca
In Kapelebyong, the dialogues were held at Acowa sub-county headquarters. Key issues identified also included voter bribery, intimidation, heavy deployment at polling stations.
“They told us to form women groups in order to be supported but ever since we voted for them, we have never seen them and have never benefited anything” Florence Akello
“Here a parish supervisor on his way to the polling station was hijacked by a candidate and beaten seriously, so women fear to take on such roles for the safety of their lives” Isaac
Women fear to be election monitors and supervisors for fear of intimidation from candidates
Recommendations from the dialogues included; Intensive civic education emphasizing voter education, set up parallel vote counting and tallying centres to disapprove state influenced results, install cameras around polling stations to survey the entire voting process leading to reliable information sources in case of any irregularities, voter bribery should stop and every political aspirant should be investigated to find out where they get the huge sums of money that they pour in their election campaigns.
The end of this decade presents a strategic opportunity for women’s rights advocates working towards the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda in the Great Lakes Region to collectively reflect, look ahead, and prepare to take fruitful action. In 2020, the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020) by the African Union comes to an end. The same year marks 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The year 2020 will also be the 20th anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Within the Great Lakes Region, women’s rights organisations have been monitoring progress and advocating for the implementation of diverse regional and national instruments. While there has been some progress, a significant implementation gap remains and the WPS agenda is yet to be achieved.
It is in this context that Global Fund for Women and the Women’s International Peace Centre co-created a space for regional exchange for three days. From the 12th to the 14th November, 48 women human rights activists and organizations from Burundi, CAR, DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda came to Kampala to convene on peacebuilding, ending sexual and gender-based violence, and combatting the negative impact of the extractive industry on peace and women’s rights. Together, they assessed the progress and gaps in the WPS agenda in the region and defined a creative common vision and agenda for feminist peacebuilding.
The overall objective of the convening was to engage in key conversations and exchanges around how to strengthen our collective capacity to promote women’s leadership in peacebuilding and reconstruction, address sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, and address the impact of the mining and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and lasting peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
On the first day, an opening session with keynotes on women, peace and security in the Great Lakes Region kicked off the convening. It was followed by a lively discussion. Hereafter, representatives of key regional mechanisms such at the ICGLR Regional Training Facility and Women’s Forum, the African Union FemWise-African Network of Women Mediators and women mediators’ networks in Burundi shared about their work and gave participants the opportunity to ask questions. The day was rounded off by plenary sessions on good practices and strategies in regional advocacy and action as well as about feminist peacebuilding strategies.
The second day started off with three thematic panels. Civil society actors discussed and presented on progress, best practices and lessons learnt on the topics of women’s leadership in peacebuilding, sexual and gender-based violence, and women’s access to and control of natural resources and the impact of the mining and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and regional peace. The division in break-out groups gave the practitioners the reflective space to assess what has worked and what has not and identify key areas for collective action and advocacy. The day ended with a plenary discussion on emerging security threats and implications for work in the field of women, peace and security and a talk on wellness, self-care, safety and integrated security for women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders.
The final day of the convening was dedicated to defining a common vision and collective action to advance the WPS Agenda in the Great Lakes Region in 2020 and beyond. Therefore, the participants first discussed key action points in-country groups before presenting their findings to the plenary. They talked about their vision for women in peace and security for the upcoming decade, in which ways the existing instruments could help to promote this vision and which kind of change they would like to see for African women in the area of peace and security. The outcome was a collective roadmap defining windows of opportunity for the WPS Agenda beyond 2020.
This edition focuses on the women, peace and security issues discussed during the institute, as informed by the UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1325 and 2250, Sustainable Development Goals (5, 16) and related national frameworks (including national action plans). It takes a closer look at the state of conflict and post-conflict in the 5 countries, progress in implementing UNSCR 1325 which centres women’s concerns as well as women’s responses to peace and security gaps and challenges.
UN Women in partnership with Isis-WICCE held consultations with girls and women refugees to feed into the review report. This report provides details of consultations held with girls and women refugees in Adjumani as a contribution to the review of the Uganda National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325)