Building on the gains from the previous work in conflict and post-conflict situations, The Peace Centre conducted training on Peacebuilding and Leadership for 50 women leaders (political, religious, cultural, CBOs and independent/influential women leaders) and 50 youth leaders (political, religious, cultural and independent/influential youth leaders) in Soroti district. The training which aimed to enhance conflict analysis peacebuilding, governance, leadership and mediation skills was conducted from 22nd to 27th February.
The Peace Centre conducted 4 Community Dialogues on the root cause, impact, prevention and response to Violence Against Women using the SASA Together and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Standard Operating Procedures for 2 host communities in Ciforo Sub County and Agojo Refugee settlement on 16th and 17th February.
The dialogues which were convened to influence attitudes on SGBV targeted community leaders from the cultural, political, religious institutions and were attended by 178 people (77 men and 101 women).
The LC 1, Duba Village in Ciforo sub county shared that about 75% of women experience abuse in her community. SGBV remains a silent epidemic in many humanitarian settings oftentimes associated with a wide range of physical, sexual and psychological health consequences. Studies have also shown negative impacts of SGBV on the social and economic well-being of survivors. These outcomes are particularly exacerbated in humanitarian settings given that crisis-affected populations are more vulnerable to SGBV.
The community dialogues provided opportunity to the community leaders to discuss key Women Peace and Security issues and Violence Against Women (VAW). VAW continues to happen because of the unbalanced power relationship which is deeply rooted in culture as well as the patriarchal nature of our society. Alcoholism, poverty, lack of trust, polygamy, women accessing family planning without spousal consent, reduction in food ration to the refugees, sharing resources like land, food among others contribute to the increasing violence in the communities.
Community leaders identify, settle and refer to a lot of conflict incidences in their communities but they lack the materials and skills in documenting the cases. The fact that the violence continues to happen in the community because the community and its leaders have accepted it enabled the local leaders to acknowledge their role in promoting peace in the communities they lead.
On 18th February 2021, the Peace Centre convened a Girls Power Camp under the theme ‘My Body My Power’ targeting 178 Primary Seven (P.7) pupils from Orungo Primary School of which 34 girls and from Moruinera Primary School of which 47 were girls in Amuria district.
Through conversation circles, we emphasized self-exploration skills, critical thinking and self-awareness. This camp follows a series of conversations under the theme ‘My Body My Power’ with adolescent girls aged 9 to16 years from Ocakai Primary School, Ococia P/S, Otubet P/S Orungo P/S & Moruinera Primary School during which skills girls in leadership, understanding their bodies, discovering their dreams and setting goals
Since June 2018, Women’s International Peace Centre has organized camps for adolescent girls aged between 9 and 16 years from five schools . Building on previous engagement, the camp included a dialogue among the pupils looking at building adolescent’s competencies for the future and providing a platform to discuss the values of girls’ education in the society. The girls were trained in leadership, informed about their bodies, and sensitized on HIV&AIDS to reduce discrimination and stigma.
The Peace Centre also held a talk on conquering fear and confidence building. Under the theme “knowledge is power” young girls were guided on how to conquer fear and build confidence using the word of God by Rev. Canon Lawrence Onyait. This was followed by a session on career development covering: Areas of interest for the girls. The talk also discussed prioritized life values which included courage beyond primary level and self-management during vacation to avoid joining bad groups and early/child pregnancy, forced marriage. This camp aimed to enable learners, take actions that will shape their career path. The P.7 candidates and staff of Orungo primary school appreciated the Peace Centre for their timely intervention of confidence building and career development as they approached PLE.
The Peace Centre held a series of meetings with Women Peace Mediators from refugee and host communities meet each month to discuss peace and security concerns they have identified and develop an issues report for action by the respective District Peace Committees in Yumbe, Adjumani and Kotido. This was between 5th and 11th February where the Peace Centre joined 108 women peace mediators as they discussed their experiences, their progress in resolving conflicts, representing women and their priorities which require redress.
The mediators were joined by 90 Conflict Analysts and Conflict Monitors in the three districts who received and reviewed the reports to the District Peace Committees.
The women peace builders discussed key issues likely to cause conflict in the refugees settlements including inadequate land for cultivation since the food ratio has reduced and low water supply during the dry season. The mediators also expressed concern that some water points were not operational, they highlighted insufficient supply insufficient supply of drugs in specific health centers and cases of conflict between the host and refugee communities over resources like firewood and grass especially with stray animals destroying crops. Increased teenage pregnancies since the COVID-19 outbreak remains an important issue to which the peace mediators are seeking immediate solutions.
The meeting is part of wider efforts led by the Peace Centre with support of UN Women to institutionalize gender sensitive conflict early warning and early response system in conflict-affected Adjumani, Yumbe and Kotido districts. This has been carried out as a series of training in mediation and conflict resolution in 2019 and 2020.Women leaders including refugee women and women affected by cross-border conflicts benefited from the initiative. Since then, they have taken lead in peace building within their communities and ensuring that district peace committees address women’s peace and security concerns.
The Peace Centre is excited to be a part of Just Future, an Alliance that will over the next 5years, work towards fair, equitable & inclusive justice, security and peace in Afghanistan, Burundi, DRC, Mali, Niger and South Sudan. The alliance has been formed in response to the challenges of a fragile world. Consisting of 6 established CSOs and networks, from the Global North and South, our work will strengthen the capacity of CSOs and enable their collective action to bring about more inclusive, constructive and legitimate power relations.
Just Future’s vision is of a world in which all people in fragile states benefit from more accessible, responsive and accountable security and justice institutions, and more inclusive arrangements for political governance and peace-making. Just- future is seeking to change the current state of life because conflict and violence are the most significant obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Just Future will foreground the needs and demands of women and girls, the commitment of men to achieving gender equality and preventing sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV), and realizing political power for young women & men—the majority of the population in all 6 countries.
Just Future will be delivered by a consortium including the African Security Sector Network, a pan-African network working to facilitate progress towards the achievement of effective and democratically governed security sectors across Africa. Cordaid; a Dutch humanitarian and development NGO, working in the most fragile and conflict-affected contexts on challenges in the security and justice, health, education, and humanitarian protection sectors, among others. Search for Common Ground which is a US- and EU-based international non-profit operating in 36 countries, with a mission to transform the way the world deals with conflict, away from adversarial approaches toward cooperative solutions. The Liaison Office (TLO) is an independent Afghan non-governmental organization seeking to improve local governance, stability and security through engagement with customary structures, local communities, and CSOs. In the Alliance, TLO represents the SALAH Consortium of CSOs. West African Network for Peacebuilding is a leading regional peacebuilding organization with strong national networks in every West African state, focusing on collaborative approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding and Women’s International Peace Centre is a transnational feminist organization working to empower women from different countries in Africa and Asia by supporting their active participation in peacebuilding processes.
The Just Future Alliance also includes The Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and State-building as its network partner. The Rift Valley Institute, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University as research partners. As Just Future will be funded through a Power of Voices Strategic Partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands, the Ministry will also contribute to program implementation.
On 12th February, The Peace Centre held a meeting with Conflict monitors and conflict analysts in Adjumani. This was to analyse and harmonise the report shared by the Women Peace Mediators on women peace and security concerns to be presented to the District Peace Committee for immediate action. Key issues identified during the training included; bush burning, resource sharing conflicts, stray animals from both the refugees and host communities destroying crops, need for more land to be apportioned to the refugees and host for cultivation, night disco halls playing loud music till late and access to police form 3. The meeting also provided an opportunity for the monitors and analysts to share individual stories of change.
The Women’s International Peace Centre (The Peace Centre) and International Rescue Committee (IRC) conducted a case management training for 14 participants from IRC and the Peace Centre. The five-day training which was held from 25th to 29th January 2021 was to enable participants to handle gender-based violence cases amongst urban refugees in Kampala.
This is in line with the Peace Centre and the IRC partnership on a project to reimagine, support, and reshape nationally driven and locally-led protection systems. The project titled, Scale-Up: Catalyzing Systems to Keep Refugees and Host Communities Safe from Violence (Safety and Power) will rapidly map and analyze how gender-based violence and child protection humanitarian interventions in the urban context, should link up to and be integrated into existing social protection, social welfare, child protection, and justice law and order sector systems. It will also feature engagement of the Centre’s alumni as some have been refugees themselves.
The training was facilitated by the IRC team who took participants through a couple of modules on GBV case management which included; understanding power and GBV and the theoretical foundation for a survivor-centered approach context, and causes of GBV among many others.
The Peace Centre in partnership with Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAP) and the Women Peace and Security Centre of the London School of Economics (LSE) studied the intersection between environmental conflict, peace and gender. This was to provide recommendations for the international community for how it can better ensure that women and girls’ human rights can be delivered despite the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change.
In preparation for the 2021 presidential election, the Peace Centre conducted fourteen(14) election observer training in different districts in Uganda which were concluded on a final training held from 9th– 13th January 2021 in Kampala. The Peace Centre recruited a total of 540 election observers selected from sub-counties in Arua, Kassanda and Kapelebyong in addition to other districts of Soroti, Lira, Amuria, Kampala, Sembabule, Luwero, Ntugamo, Rukungiri, Yumbe, Kotido and Adjumani.
The training was successful in ensuring that each district had 40 trained election observers with election observation materials deployed to observe elections from 14th to January to 22nd January.
Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections and creates confidence in elections that can help promote sound democratic practices. This is vital as Uganda has not experienced peaceful, violent free democratic electoral processes since the introduction of multi-party politics in 1988. The political environment in the build-up to, during, and after elections has over the years become increasingly charged with reports of harassment, intimidation, acts of corruption, human rights abuses perpetrated by different political opponents.
To ensure a difference this year, the election observers were trained on Electoral Commission election observation guidelines, laws related to election observation, do’s and don’ts of an election observer, and provided tools for data collection. This enabled them to monitor elections and document electoral violence incidences in the eleven districts.
‘The UN Resolution 1325 has succeed in raising awareness of the women peace and security agenda.’ shared Helen Kezie Nwoha representing the Peace Centre shared in a conversation with joined leading women peace advocates from across the Commonwealth as they reimagined what ‘women, peace and security’ might mean for our future.
The conversation comes two decades after the Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, part of a global effort to highlight the impact of conflict on women and the need to bring the voice of women into peace processes., it is clear that much remains to be done.
In this second event in the Commonwealth Foundation’s Critical Conversations series, the peace advocates asked; how Resolution 1325 can be reimagined to better serve the needs and aspirations of women and communities across the Commonwealth. If mainstream approaches to women’s leadership in conflict resolution were actually working? How can women’s participation in peace processes be made more meaningful? How can women peace advocates secure better access to the forums and institutions where decisions are being made?
Speakers drew on their front-line experience to tackle these questions; sharing concrete examples of what has worked well and their perspectives on what needs to be done differently.
Watch this conversation here