International Day of Elimination of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

By Evelyn Birungi

Conflicts and wars remain gendered in their impact, having women mostly targeted and sexually violated. Sexual violence is defined as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion. The United Nation General Assembly’s 2015 resolution proclaimed 19 June as a day to condemn and call for the end of conflict-related sexual violence, and honour victims, survivors and those fighting to end these most terrorizing and destructive of crimes. The date was deliberately chosen to commemorate UN Security Council Resolution 1820 (2008) which first recognized the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, rather than an unintended consequence of war.

Violence especially sexual violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, and the immediate and long-term physical, sexual, and mental consequences for women and girls can be devastating, including death. It negatively affects women’s general well-being and prevents women from fully participating in society. It impacts their families, their community, and the vital role of women in preventing conflict and helping to forge peace.

“Children conceived through wartime rape often struggle with issues of identity and belonging for decades after the guns have fallen silent. Their mothers may be marginalized and shunned by their own families and communities. On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, we amplify the voices of these forgotten victims of war, who suffer stigma, shame and exclusion in societies polarized by armed conflict.”— UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

While there has been more international attention given to sexual violence in armed conflict, its still a problem that hasn’t gone away. This is because, it is used in war as power play. The male demand for female labor to perform female household chores persists during armed conflict. These patterns of social dominance and deeply engrained gender specific roles get violently expressed in wartime and women are sexually violated for the sins the perpetrators believe their communities have committed.

Secondly, outrage about rape in conflict have failed to translate into investigation and prosecution of perpetrators Over the past decade, estimates have been made that only 37% of reported rapes are prosecuted, and other research studies estimate that only 14-18% of reported sexual assaults of any kind lead to prosecution. Lastly, inadequate relief and recovery services for survivors of wartime sexual assault reflect official disregard for the harm women and girls suffer in the course of conflict and suggests a lack of commitment to facilitating rape survivors’ reintegration into society.

Collectively we can look and work towards a future free of conflict-related sexual violence by creating a world and culture where all are equal. Conflicts rarely happen abruptly, by monitoring and empowering women as peace builders, we can work towards a place where women are seen more than labor for household chores and keepers of the peace.

Governments and international systems of justice have the responsibility to put in place laws on prohibition and commit to investigations and punishment of these crimes. It definitely needs to go without saying that sexual violence, is a crime and cannot be justified. Sexual violence in armed conflicts must be subject to an absolute prohibition, the same status that the crime of torture currently enjoys.

 Governments committed to the recovery of sexual violence survivors must undertake efforts to improve women’s human rights in all aspects of their lives and eradicate discrimination against them. This includes incorporation and reaffirming its commitment to the continuing and full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) . This would especially refer to the pillar on relief and recovery which calls for advancement of relief and recovery measures to address international crises through a gendered lens, including by respecting the civilian and humanitarian nature of refugee camps, and considering the needs of women and girls in the design of refugee camps and settlements.

Meet our Grassroots Partner- Nakere Rural Women Activists (NARWOA)

Nakere Rural Women Activists (NARWOA) is an umbrella Community-Based Organization for women groups that started out in November 2002. The group converged for meetings under a tree locally called ‘Ekere’ thus the name Nakere Rural Women Activists. It was established as a community response to the humanitarian crisis in Karamoja, to address cross border and inter-ethnic political instability, the rise of warlords, high domestic violence, and discrimination of women in the society and overall adverse poverty. Read More “Meet our Grassroots Partner- Nakere Rural Women Activists (NARWOA)”

Training Workshop on Understanding the AU, RECs/RM for Advocacy on Security, Justice and Peace

As a member of the Just Future alliance, The Peace Centre hosted a training workshop focused on understanding the African Union and Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms from 31 May to 4 June 2021 for the Just Future Partners. The Training was planned as an initial activity to contribute to strengthening the local and national CSOs in Burundi, DRC, and South Sudan to better influence security, justice and governance policies and practices in their countries and in the region.

30 representatives of CSO partners from Burundi (Bujumbura), DRC (Kinshasa, Bukavu and Goma), South Sudan (Juba) and Peace Centre staff in each of the countries with minimal exposure to or experience with regional advocacy participated in the training. The training was planned as an initial activity to contribute to strengthening the capacity /meeting the learning needs of local/national CSOs in Burundi, DRC and South Sudan to better influence security, justice and governance policies and practices: Lobby and advocate at regional level in support of the national processes by advocating for more people-centred practices: holding regional partners of state duty-bearers to account, and ensuring accountability towards the most excluded constituencies. 

Each day of the training covered particular themes such as understanding the global governance architecture and the space of multilateralism, the AU’s key policy priorities, including the continental blueprint, Agenda 2063, the Regional Economic Communities/ Regional Mechanisms (RECs/ RMs): their history, background, various structures and main legal and policy frameworks. The session on gender and inclusivity in the AU and RECs identified opportunities for strengthening women and youth participation in AU and RECs/ RMs structures and processes, and finally, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on CSOs work, particularly their lobbying and advocacy work.

The training also involved country team discussions to deepen sharing, learning, connectedness and work towards developing an advocacy plan and other practical training tools.  While the training was conducted online, participants gathered in physical locations in each city (Juba, Bujumbura, Bukavu and Kinshasa) to facilitate exchanges with colleagues from partner CSOs. 

By the end of the 5days training, participants were exposed to the entry points and opportunities for policy engagement, lobbying and advocacy, especially structures that they could collaborate with for an effective advocacy strategy including working more closely with the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, the AU Youth Envoy, the AU Women, Gender and Development Directorate as well as the AU Youth Division. They also developed draft Joint Advocacy Strategies to address cross-cutting issues in Burundi, DRC and South Sudan.

Additionally, the training workshop provided a platform for peer-to-peer exchange and enabled deeper reflection issues facing CSOs in conflict and post-conflict countries.  This creation of platforms and spaces for CSOS to meet, exchange, reflect and strategize, and investment in fostering intergenerational dialogue is important. The Just Future Programme has an opportunity to continue bringing CSOs from select countries to share experiences and realities and discuss agendas and strategies.

 

Creating a Movement of Women Peace Builders and Mediators, Meet Noella

Noella Kabale Kalu is a Gender Equality Activist, Social Entrepreneur, Peace Mediator in the Congolese refugee community in Kampala and an alumna of our 2020 Feminist Leadership Institute. Following her training, Noella has been able to share the knowledge acquired within her community, create intensive awareness around peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and mediate conflict amongst community members at the household and community level using the feminist ideology of promoting love, empathy, and unity.

Read More “Creating a Movement of Women Peace Builders and Mediators, Meet Noella”

Launch of the Research on 20 Years of Implementing UNSCR1325 in South Sudan

The month of June kicked off with the official launch of our research report on 20 years of implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in South Sudan with support from the Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS) and in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare (MoGCSW) in Juba. The launch was attended by 43 participants comprising of representatives from ministries including the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ministry of mining, MoGCSW, Ministry of East African Community Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Embassy of Sweden in Juba, development partners and CSOs.

Read More “Launch of the Research on 20 Years of Implementing UNSCR1325 in South Sudan”

Refresher Training of Young Women Peace Builders in South Sudan

The Peace Centre partnered with the Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) in 2019 and the National Transformational Leadership Institute (NTLI) at the University of Juba in 2020 to train 46 young women leaders (from diverse CSOs, academic institutions and informal networks) in Juba, South Sudan. Building on this training, and addressing the capacity needs and identified limitations to young women’s meaningful participation, the Peace Centre organized a practical skilling session from 24th to 28th May 2021 in Juba to equip young women with skills to; Engage in digital spaces for national-level organizing and in regional and international processes occurring online. Learn and practice documentation and write for publication or influencing. Understand leadership in practice with a focus on subjects such as management of finances. And last but not least to increase knowledge of key women, peace and security thematic areas. Read More “Refresher Training of Young Women Peace Builders in South Sudan”

Support Phase Training of Community Activists using the SASA Together Methodology

The notion that violence against women is cultural for some communities and therefore does not warrant a serious response continues to put women at greater risk. Using the SASA Together methodology, The Peace Centre held 3 days of training from 28th to 31st May 2021, for 30 Community Activists from the host and refugee communities in Adjumani District. This training focused on the 3rd “Support” phase of the SASA Together methodology.

Read More “Support Phase Training of Community Activists using the SASA Together Methodology”

Interdisciplinary Dialogues Fostering Future Women Leaders in South Sudan

In order to bridge the gap between senior women leaders and young women and highlight the role young people play in ensuring sustainable peace and good governance, The  Peace Centre held four dialogues with 51 Women peacebuilders, Gender Focal persons, Women Parliamentarians and representatives from CSOs as well as young women leaders from 18th to 20th May 2021 Dembesh Hotel in Juba, South Sudan. The dialogue was convened in collaboration with Community Empowerment for Progress Organization supported by the Forum for Women and Development. Read More “Interdisciplinary Dialogues Fostering Future Women Leaders in South Sudan”

European Studies’ Debate on Feminist Peace

“Feminist Peace entails actions within the peacebuilding spectrum that are transformative and leads to sustainable peace.” Our Executive Director Helen Kezie spoke on what feminist peace means in Amsterdam Centre for European Studies’ debate on the European Union’s contribution to building Feminist Peace. Helen was part of speakers that discussed what feminist peace entails in relation to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, women’s peace activism, and the politics of knowledge production. They also contextualized the EU’s role as peacebuilder and sketch new ways forward.

Read More “European Studies’ Debate on Feminist Peace”

Statement by The Women’s Movement Condemning the Government of Uganda’s Proposal to Merge the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) With Other Wealth Creation Programmes

The Peace Centre as part of the Women’s Movement supports reservations to the merger of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program(UWEP) with other programmes in light of the numerous barriers that women grapple with in accessing and enjoying credit and capital. Uganda is known to have registered strides in gender equality. UWEP which was launched in 2015 is one of the biggest initiatives and has been key in realizing Sustainable Development goals 1 and 5 that speak to ending poverty and gender inequality respectively. Read More “Statement by The Women’s Movement Condemning the Government of Uganda’s Proposal to Merge the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) With Other Wealth Creation Programmes”

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