Fifteen participants from Arua, Kapelebyong and Kasanda inclusive of data analysts, district leadership and the women monitors were part of trainings on adaption of early warning tools from 7th – 12th September, 2020. This was facilitated by a consultant who developed the gender-sensitive early warning data collection tools to aid in collection conflict/violence early warning signs in the electoral process and general conflict in communities.
The Peace Centre was excited to be hosting a 3-day exchange visit with 40 women peacebuilders from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan & Uganda, living as refugees in Uganda to reflect on the past 20 years of implementing the Women Peace Security agenda.
This was in line with the 20th anniversary for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, it is widely acknowledged as a significant year for driving progress and pushing for gains in implementing the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda. 2020 is also the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which is significant for the WPS agenda with its prioritisation of women and armed conflict as a critical area of concern for gender
equality and women’s empowerment. It is a critical year to reflect on progress, setbacks, challenges and opportunities to advance the women, peace and security agenda, and to leverage the anniversary to accelerate implementation of key commitments and WPS frameworks.
The exchange visit ensured that the peace builders had recap on UNSCR resolution 1325 and the Uganda National Action Plan(NAP). We discussed the desired outcomes of the NAP and how women can participate in monitoring UNSCR 1325 at different levels. The exchange visit also entailed group presentations discussing challenges faced by women in conflict-affected areas and what recommendations they have to address the gaps.
On the status of implementation of the #UNSCR1325 in refugee settlements and within host communities the challenges have been highlighted as;
– High levels of physical and psychological gender based violence, limited access to reproductive health services.
-Refugee women and girls within settlements are continually excluded from formal peace processes and are under-represented within peace or security committee structures
Despite making tangible change in the communities, the contributions of refugee women and grassroots women peace builders are not recognized or made visible. The 3 day visit also included the peacebuilders sharing their reflections on Implementation of UNSCR 1325; Participation, Prevention, Protection relief and recovery with the African Union Special Envoy Bineta Diopo. The women peace builders therefore urged Madam Bineta Diopto to consider and amplify their recommendations as; a need to call for all governments and development partners to create a protective environment for women and girls affected by conflict.
The Uganda Women’s Network host of the Women’s Situation Room
(WSR) in Uganda in 2021; and the Women’s International Peace Centre, the Secretariat of the WSR launched the 2021 WSR. The Women’s Situation Room is a process that mobilizes women and youth to ensure their active participation in promoting peaceful electoral processes.
The process promotes women’s leadership in conflict resolution and peace building in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. The WSR is an early warning and rapid response mechanism to election related conflict and violence in African countries. First implemented by the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) during the Presidential and Legislative Elections in Liberia in 2011, the WSR was adopted as a Best Practice by the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) of the African Union, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia was designated as the Champion for the WSR.
African women’s experiences in conflict situations and the role of African women’s
peacebuilders were central to the influence for the adoption of United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1325 and the broader Women’s Peace and Security
Agenda. African women have played a formative role in shaping the agenda, raising
awareness of the issues, developing and implementing frameworks as well as
building networks and mobilizing the necessary support for its implementation.
The Peace Centre hosted monthly meetings with the District Peace Committee members from 24 th September – 3 rd October, 2020. A total of 15 women leaders, male and female monitors and data analysts were mobilized to attend the meetings in Arua, Kapelybong and Kassanda.
The meetings convened at sub county level aimed at sharing documented early warning incidences and the impact of COVID 19 on women and electoral processes for discussion and action by the Committee.
The District Peace Committees were established as a part of the Conflict Early Warning and Early response mechanism (CEWERU).
The Peace Centre partnered with the South Sudan Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare and Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) to mark International Day of Peace with a talk show on South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation TV on 21st September 2020 reflecting on important roles of women in sustaining peace, the status of and opportunities for women’s (including young women’s) participation in peacebuilding and national development.
The discussion highlighted progress and gaps in government efforts, including in the implementation of the 2015-2020 National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and the revitalized peace agreement. It also highlighted the contributions of young women to peace and nation-building; including advocating for the R-ARCSS to be implemented and for their inclusion in decision-making processes, opportunities for ensuring women’s leadership in political parties and public institutions, and closed with calls to action.
The Peace Centre trained 78 refugee women in December 2019 and they have participated in the formal and informal decision making forums for peace. To further strengthen their skills. The trainings enhanced the capacity of 90 peace mediators; 40 in Yumbe from 7th to 9th September 2020 and 35 in Adjumani from 10th to 12th September 2020 and 15 in Kotido from 19th to 21st August 2020.
During the training the 75 women peace mediators discussed what they did with the skills they obtained during the mediation training in December 2019, with demonstrations on how they handled the conflict cases and they were guided. The training also focused more on advocacy for conflict prevention and peace building, OPM community based service department took participants through the referral pathway, new action plans were developed and participants went out to implement. The 15 participants in Kotido included community development officers whose involvement in peace building has been low since they had never been targeted with peace building initiatives yet are key if peace is to be realized.
The conflict early warning and early response system has been lacking an effective monitoring and reporting of conflict incidences right from the grassroots. To strengthen the early response and reporting system, The Peace Centre trained 46 Conflict Analysts (8 males and 38 females) that is 16 in Kotido from 16th to 18th August 2020, 15 in Adjumani from 24th to 26th August 2020 and 15 in Yumbe from 2nd to 4th September 2020. Participants were equipped with knowledge and skills on Uganda’s conflict early warning and early response mechanism.
The Peace Centre this week trained 66 District Peace Committee members (46 males and 20 females) to play their peace building role more effectively while mainstreaming gender and embracing conflict early warning and early response mechanisms at District level. This was carried out through three trainings sessions organized by the Peace Centre for 60 District Peace Committee members in Kotido, Adjumani and in Yumbe where 2 days were allocated to each District with 20 participants each.
The Conflict Early Warning and Early Response system that Uganda is using provides for peace structures at National, District, Sub County, Parish and Village level but on ground the committees were not fully functional and lacked understanding on their mandate. The trainings focused on IGAD, Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) background, mandate, activities and role of District peace committee, frameworks and methods of conflict early warning, formation of local peace structures, engendering the conflict early warning and early response system at District level. As the peace structure mandated to coordinate peace initiatives at District level, the committee now have a better understanding on their role, operations, mainstreaming gender in peace building, conflict early warning and early response system and pledged to utilise the skills gained in their peace building work.
Responding to the absence of young women in policy spaces and programming on peace and security, The Peace Centre is this week training young women from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Uganda to empower them to be leaders and agents of peace in the Feminist leadership Institute in Seeta, Uganda.