In celebration of International Women’s Day 2020 working under the theme – I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights- the centre left the capital for Mbale. This was in partnership with The National Women’s Council (NWC) and with support from Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) to launch their strategic Plan 2019-2023. The workshop brought together representatives from the different countries in Uganda . The Chairperson of the Council Hajjati Kiboowa Faridah shared as part of the National Women’s Council’s (NWC) plan to engage all women regardless of their various political parties for development purposes.
The workshop kicked off with an update of what the NWC had been able to achieve in the past year. “The NWC has been able to mobilize women to participate in peace and security and partnered with The Peace Centre to develop the strategic plan and investment model, and carry out peer to peer mentoring” Mr. Collins Mwijukka Executive Director of the NWC said.
In her keynote address to the women the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Ms. Peace Mutozo commended the NWC for bridging the gap between the rural women and government.
The women at the workshop were taken through the NWC 5 year Strategic and Investment Plan which seeks to address the following; economically independent women, the enrolment and retention of children in schools and nurture children and young people into responsible and patriotic citizens. The Strategic Plan proposes the 15 households model that will enable the five elected NWC executives at the village level to be in charge of mobilization, sensitization and overseeing ten households to effectively participate and benefit from different development interventions.
The model has 3 pillars – Nurturing, Education and Socioeconomic empowerment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals .
The Peace Centre was part of the African Women Leaders Network Ugandan Chapter (AWLN) launch, This event took place on 28th February 2020 at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala under the theme “Widening our Space in Leadership“. The launch brought together over 400 women leaders across the spectrum from government, private sector, academia, civil society and rural areas.
The African Women Leaders Network is a ground breaking movement of African women leaders that seek to enhance the leadership of African women in the transformation of the continent in line with Africa Agenda 2063 and the Global Sustainable Development agenda 2030.
The network will serve as a continental platform to galvanize women’s leadership towards lasting peace and development in all sectors and at all levels, building on and working with existing women networks. It seeks to increase women’s participation in decision making through peer learning and mentoring, enhanced solidarity, advocacy and capacity building among other strategies.
The Ugandan Chapter was launched by Honorable Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda who noted her belief that AWLN will help to mobilize women across all sectors to strengthen the reins that women hold for the transformation of our continent. The launch was also supported by various government institutions and women leaders like Ministry of Gender, labour and social development, Dr. Elizabeth Mary Okello Founder and Chair of Kenya Women Finance Trust, Ms Janet Bugembe; Associate Prof Josephine Ahikire of Makerere University and many others.
The event was also a space for various conversations which included panel discussions. One which was moderated by our very own Executive Director, Helen Kezie-Nwoha. The discussion was on women’s leadership; perspective, challenges and way forward in regards to the civil society sector, academia/research, including young women leaders perspectives. The discussion highlighted the need for transformation to be by choice and not by chance and encouraging women to use their sphere of influence to help someone become the best version of themselves. “It could be a small drop in the ocean but it’s the drop that makes the ocean full.”
The Executive Director Uganda Women’s Network, Ms. Rita Hope Aciro, addressed the challenges faced by women including social structure with 80% of people thinking men make better leaders and the negative portrayal of women in the media. Women, children and people with disabilities are still facing discrimination she said. Ms. Aciro reiterated that the platform is a collective action towards addressing the barriers that have affected women in leadership since time immemorial.
“Women around the world have been affected by leadership, economically, politically and socially. This is the reason why we are calling for collective action as opposed to individualism. Together we look up to planet 50/50 as women of Africa,” Rita Hope Aciro.
“Mentorship is a day to day effort and something we are committed to doing; stop nagging, support women and girls in rural areas. We need to hold ourselves accountable and continue engaging to bring about positive change,” Rita added as she concluded her remarks.
The UN Women Deputy Country Representative to Uganda, Ms. Adekemi Ndieli also underscored the significance of the platform, to bring together women from all walks of life who are passionate about leadership. “We are all aware of the challenges facing women in Uganda and globally. As we embark on this great journey, we must pledge that no one will be left behind. This is the time to arise to action and we can only do it together.” With support from the office of the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security and the Federal Government of Germany, Adekemi pledged continued support of UN Women in empowering AWLN.
As part of its strategic goal to increase women’s participation in peacebuilding, the Peace Centre held a conference in form of an interdisciplinary dialogue that brought different actors together to engage with South Sudan women and girls refugees in Uganda.
The conference aimed to provide a platform for women refugees and other actors to access information on the progress of the peace processes in South Sudan and design strategies for continued incorporation of their voices and presence. It also provided an opportunity for women to share their experience in peacebuilding, learn from best practices, plan to address Women, Peace and Security concerns such as under-representation of women in defining and delivery of humanitarian-development services, shortage of specific measures and mechanisms to facilitate women’s sustained participation in the peace processes and accountability for gender-responsiveness.
This promoted women’s effective participation in decision making relating to the consolidation of peace and humanitarian assistance as well as contributed to closing real and perceived gaps between often-isolated local women (including refugee women) and larger national level women’s rights organizations engaged in advocacy on key peacebuilding processes hence facilitating connections between the refugee women and other counterparts supporting the engendering of the implementation of the peace agreement and related transitional processes in South Sudan.
The Conference convened 100 Participants including; Women Peace Mediators from Refugee Settlements in Yumbe, Adjumani and Kotido, Civil Society Leaders engaged in peace processes in South Sudan, The Peace Centre Staff, UN Women, Local Governments, Office of the Prime Minister, UNHCR, Implementing partners and aimed to achieve the following objectives:
• To provide a platform for refugee women to understand and receive updates on the peacebuilding processes in South Sudan
• To link
the refugee women with other women involved in advocacy towards engendering the
peace processes in South Sudan
• To ignite women’s ability to participate in the formal and informal peacebuilding processes right from the refugee settlement for sustainable peace in South Sudan.
The conference was a major success as it had the following outcomes:
An outcome document that presents the recommendations of the refugee women to the Government of National Unity of South Sudan and the Government of Uganda was developed.
During the conference, even though our focus was on informing the refugees of the ongoing peace process(es), there was a lot of conversation on their return back home, the conference received a report from the Office of the Prime Minister on the number of refugees arriving in Uganda currently, and this was explained as fear of the outcome of the recently sworn-in Transitional Government in South Sudan. Based on this the women demanded for specific actions relating to their return including a ceasefire and disarmament.
Improved Relationship between refugees from Yumbe and Adjumani through networking. Most of the participants were joyful about the conference as they made new friends and were able to see the ones they hadn’t seen in a while
Increased understanding on the peace building processes in South Sudan and the role of women in Peace building with Presentations from; Betty Sunday from Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO South Sudan who opened up on the context of the South Sudan peace process.
Jackline Nasiwa, Executive Director Centre for Inclusive Governance Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) gave a review of the transitions in South Sudan from 2013 to date, the role of women in peace processes and updates on the peace process; government being dissolved and appointment of 5 Vice Presidents, one being a woman. She also encouraged the women to organize themselves and be hopeful for peace in South Sudan
Last but not least Dr Ronald Kalyango explained research findings on the implementing the revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) from a gender perspective. From this, he was able to discuss the barriers to women’s participation in security sector reforms such as; resistance to women in military and societal borders by prescribing child care to women which holds them back.
As a way forward, he listed recommendations like ensuring gender responsive budgeting, setting guidelines on how the government will encourage women participation in elections and supporting affirmative action for women participating in all institutions and processes. All this set the stage for a productive and involved discussion about the South Sudan peace process.
The Peace Centre in partnership with the Conflict Early Warning and Early Response Unit (CEWERU) held meetings on 12th, 13th, 18th ,20th and 24th February, in Arua, Kapelebyong Kassanda, Kotido, Yumbe and Adjumani Districts respectively to establish District Peace Committees. This was with the support and guidance of the Resident District Commissioners, who are the Heads of security and the representatives of the President in the Districts. The meetings aimed at increasing the understanding of members on the roles and responsibilities of the District Peace Committees, which includes to strengthen collaborative partnership between the District Peace Committees, Monitors, and Analysts and developing of action plans for convening meetings by the committees.
“Conflict mediation and resolution is key for peaceful electoral processes. Am happy that The Peace Centre has established a structure to respond to early warning incidences. I pledge to work with all stakeholders including the recently trained women that will act as violence monitors. This committee will handle issues of land, violence, human rights and electoral conflicts.” Hajj Ziad Kaleme- LC5 Kassanda District Local Government.
A total of 141 women were inaugurated as peace committee members (78 men and 63 women); (Arua – 17 men & 6 women); (Kapelebyong – 7 men & 7 women); (Kassanda – 12 men & 6 women); (Kotido 19 men & 19 women); (Yumbe 11 men & 14 women); (Adjumani 12 men & 11 women). The District Peace Committee members include: Resident District Commissioners, Local Council V Chairpersons, Resident State Attorneys; District Police Commanders; District Internal Security Officers; Military; Speakers; Officers in Charge of Prisons; District Information Officers; District Community Development Officers; representatives of the Electoral Commission; Office of the Prime Minister; Uganda Human Rights Commission; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); National Women’s Council -Women representatives; Youths representatives; Religious, Cultural & Kraal leaders; Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, Chairpersons of respective Sub-County Peace committees; and Regional Internal Security Officers.
As a result, six (6) District Peace Committees were established and trained. It is expected that all the six districts will hold monthly meetings commencing end of March, 2020 to receive update on early warning conflict/violence incidents and follow up reported cases to address the issues and document outcomes.
“The committee will help bridge the gap between district local government and the citizens. It will provide instant response to the citizens”. RDC Arua
The training has increased understanding on roles and responsibilities of the District Peace Committees among the Peace Committee members and leaders and also strengthened collaborative partnership between the District Peace Committees, Monitors, Analysts and the Peace Centre.
This week saw phase two of the Training on Advocacy, Gender and Peace Building implemented when 5 young women leaders from South Sudan came to Uganda as part of a 3-day learning visit from 10th to 12th February 2020. This was planned for a more immersive learning experience with women leaders and women’s rights organizations within Uganda’s women’s movement. Women’s International Peace Centre (WIPC) which hosted the girls, is partnering with the Centre of Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) to strengthen young women’s capacity to participate in and influence peace processes and their outcomes from a gender perspective in South Sudan.
The visit was part of the plan of equipping Young Women to Participate in and Influence Peace Processes and Post-Conflict Governance and aimed at;
Facilitating an exchange of information, experiences, strategies and solidarity between the young women in South Sudan and a diversity of women and women’s rights organizations in Uganda. This was accomplished with interactions with the Peace Centre and a session on Personal and Professional Leadership and Growth – Rita Atukwasa Executive Director, Institute for Social Transformation
Exposing the trained young women leaders to models and positive examples of young women’s leadership and efforts to influence policies, programs and structures in post-conflict context and this was achieved with the help of the women in leadership symposium organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika
And strengthening their personal leadership skills which was possible through interactions like experience sharing from young leaders by Rachel Wanyana and a session facilitated by Harriet Nabukeera Musoke on recognizing self-worth and the importance of having a vision as a young leader
This comes after a previous training in Juba where 25 women aged between 22 and 35 were trained on advocacy and collective action to advance the women, peace and security agenda. At the end of which, participants created an informal network dubbed ‘Young Women Leading for Peace’ composed 4 working groups and produced 4 work plans for their engagement with key decision-makers and mechanisms on issues of young women in governance and in the coming Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU), the formation of states/boundaries, security (including DDRR, security sector reform and SGBV) and legislative review processes. The 5 young women leaders (and 1 sign language interpreter) represented the 25 members of the 4 groups. The women left motivated, with a pack of lessons and ready to share all they’ve learnt in Juba.
Atim Caroline one of the participants with a hearing impairment mentioned that she had been encouraged “I learnt that it is important to keep your target and goal in mind but I also need to allow yourself to make mistakes as it’s the normal learning experience”
The Peace Centre is excited to be a part of the second phase of the COVID-19 project Now and the Future Gender Equality, Peace and Security in a COVID-19 World. The second phase will focus on any changes to the COVID-19, peace, security and gender equality situation in each country; any uptake of the recommendations and findings; the recommendations; and a summary of the overall project findings.
This comes after the completion of the first phase of the project where GAPS, its members and partners researched and published 11 papers on COVID-19. Phase 2 aims to build on the situation post lockdown using recommendations to conduct a desk research. This is hoped to provide a succinct resource to allow updates on the findings based on phase 1 as well as changes in the COVID-19, peace, security, and gender equality situation.
The papers from phase 1 provided sound gender-conflict analysis which the international community and governments can use to develop short and long-term programmes that address the impact of COVID-19, future global pandemics and crisis, gender inequality, peace and security.
Phase 2 acknowledges that changes to the COVID-19 situation will vary in each context. In some countries there are major changes, in others limited to none at all. In some contexts, this could be as result of elections, in others: further lockdowns or a removal of lockdowns and restrictions; or changes in conflict and peace in some parts or across the country (such as increases of violence); changes in or increased evidence of gender (in)equality such as legislation or new data.
Through a desk-based review and limited Key Informant Interviews, GAPS and partners hope to assess the uptake of the first report, the extent to which recommendations have been taken up and changes in the situation. This will then inform short country briefing papers and a multi-country briefing paper which will include an update to any changes in the COVID-19, peace, security, and gender equality situation since the report was published. You can find a copy of the first phase report here. The Peace Centre will be working on this project to strengthen the report in partnership with Womankind and with funding from GAP.