The Curriculum builds on lessons learned by the Eminent Women in the WSR-Uganda Uganda (2016), whose work confirmed that a culture of peaceful elections needs to be inculcated in the country. Uganda needs structural conflict prevention, and not just respond to violence outbreaks that arise prior, during and after elections.
This Curriculum serves as one of the institutional mechanism to provide content, process and tools for Early Warning, Early Response and Conflict Transformation work. The Curriculum has also been customized to develop knowledge products for different stakeholders to enhance their skills and attitude to effectively promote governance, peace and development that is gender-responsive.
The Peace Centre hosted a 3-day exchange visit with 40 women peacebuilders from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan & Uganda, living as refugees in Uganda to reflect on the past 20 years of implementing the Women Peace and Security agenda.
Discussions during the visit focused on progress, challenges, and opportunities to advance implementation, in a way that addresses the priorities of displaced women. They also exchanged practical experiences, good practices and strategies to support the work of women mediator networks of Adjumani, Yumbe and Kotido.
This report documents the voices and impact stories of women, including young women, who are taking leadership in advancing the women peace and security agenda and contributed to COVID-19 in their communities.
This study identifies key achievements in line with the advancement of the women, peace and security agenda, the challenges and recommended actions for future intervention in relation to the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women in South Sudan.
In 2020, The Peace Centre undertook a research study to critically assess the progress made, successes and challenges encountered in line with the implementation of the South Sudan National Action Plan (SSNAP) on UNSCR 1325.
The study identifies key achievements in line with the advancement of the women, peace and security agenda, the challenges and recommended actions for future intervention in relation to the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women in South Sudan. The study which also integrates issues of youth, peace and security agenda seeks to provide recommendations for policy and programmatic interventions to accelerate the implementation of the SSNAP.
Women’s International Peace Centre (The Peace Centre) is a feminist organization with a mission to ignite women’s leadership, through amplifying women’s voices and deepening their activism to (re)create peace. We are committed to making information available for women to influence decision-making in the peace process. Since 1996, The Peace Centre has researched and documented the critical yet often-neglected experiences and perspectives of women in conflict and post-conflict in Africa and Asia generating important data and information to influence policies and practice. We are committed to making information available for women to influence decision making in peace processes.
The Feminist Peace Series Magazine
The Feminist Peace Series was born out of the continuous inquiry into what Feminist Peace means in practice with the objective to showcase the different transformative approaches to peacebuilding. In the 1st Edition of the Feminist Peace Series, The Peace Centre shared various understandings of Feminist Peace with perspectives from practitioners, partners and colleagues in the field of peacebuilding. We hope that with the Feminist Peace Series, we will continue to build a community of diverse contributors and readers that value activism and that understand feminist perspectives on peacebuilding.
The 2nd Edition of the Feminist Peace Series Magazine will focus on the following;
How women around the world are responding to the impact of COVID-19 and the measures taken (or not taken) by governments to stop the spread of the pandemic;
The game changers necessary for real progress towards feminist peace from the perspective of women peacebuilders.
We invite your contributions to grow the body of knowledge on Feminist Peace in the form of articles, artwork, photography, poems, illustrations profiles/features (on individuals or collectives) and more on your Feminist Peace Realities.
Over the years’ women and women’s organisations have been at the core of advocating for the restoration of peace and an end to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in cyclic conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Burundi, and in the wider Great Lakes region. Since 2006, in response to the conflict situations, The Peace Centre then Isis-WICCE supported women impacted by conflict by building their leadership in conflict transformation and their agency in peacebuilding processes. The Peace Centre also initiated interventions for healing survivors of SGBV, where rape in these conflicts was increasingly being used as a weapon of war. Read More “Peacebuilding and Ending SGBV Movements in South Sudan, Burundi, DRC and the Great Lakes Region”
The Peace Centre conducted a six day’s training for 80 cultural leaders and district technical administrative staff from Soroti and Lira district (40 per district) with the main areas of focus being; mediation and negotiation, conflict analysis and leadership among the selected leaders. Cultural leaders play a key role in refining norms to enhance women’s participation in decision making and outlaw negative practices that deter the progress of women. The training aimed at strengthening effective and meaningful participation in the formal and informal peace building processes.Read More “Increasing Participation in Peacebuilding and Leadership in Lira and Soroti.”
On the 29th of March 2021, The Peace Centre hosted an end of project learning and sharing stakeholder workshop with our partners in line with the end of the project “Promoting women’s effective participation in peace building in Uganda”. The meeting had 50 participants in attendance including National Steering Committee(NSC) District Peace Committees (DPCs) from project districts as well as representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister Karamoja, International Rescue committee, Refugee Law Project, Centre for Conflict Resolution and Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET).
Women Peacebuilders from Yumbe District with support from the Peace Centre, were able to join the Generation Equality Forum and preparatory workshop discussion. This was a part of Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)65 pre–Generation Equality Mexico Forum workshop that highlighted key discussions for the meaningful participation of women and youth peacebuilders in the Generation Equality Forum. Catherine Kwanje, a Peacebuilder from South Sudan living in Bidibidi Refugee settlement used the forum to share highlights on the need to ensure that women who are displaced by conflict are included in peace processes in their country of origin.
The Forum in preparation for the Mexico Forum the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders was held virtually by the Permanent Missions of Namibia and Mexico to the UN, Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Canadian Coalition for Youth, Peace & Security (CCYPS), NGO CSW/NY, Afghan Youth Ambassadors for Peace Organization (AYAP), Our Generation for Inclusive Peace, WoMen Dutch Gender Platform, Women’s International Peace Centre (WIPC), Amassuru, and UN Women on behalf of the Beijing+25 WPS-YPS Coalition
The Forum which represents a joint persistency to dismantle patriarchy was held on March 26th, 2021. The Forum presented an opportunity to build solidarity and collaboration between women’s rights groups and youth organizations from around the world. It also presented an opportunity to discuss key issues that women and youth peace builders should collectively advocate for during the Mexico forum.
The Generation Equality Forum (GEF), which will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+25), is a historic opportunity to set concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards women’s rights and gender equality. Convening civil society, governments, UN entities, and private sector organizations, the GEF provides critical momentum to build intersectional solidarity and lasting partnerships to achieve transformative change.
“As a member of the WPSHA Compact and a post-conflict country, we believe in the participation of women & youth-led groups. We must mobilize other stakeholders to become signatories of the Compact, the more the merrier.” Ambassador Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations.
This first edition of the Feminist Peace Series provides various understanding of Feminist Peace with perspectives from practitioners, partners and colleagues in the field of peace building. From all the contributions we can summarize Feminist Peace as that which takes into account the differential impact of conflict on women, girls and gender diverse people and profiles their voices, needs and perspective in all peacebuilding processes.
This quarter, we shine a light on Teso Women Peace Activists (TEWPA), a women-led organisation taking the lead to advance peace, resolve conflict, build tolerance and justice, in the Teso Region.
About TEWPA: Formed in 2001 by Cecilia Engole following her participation in the Isis-WICCE Institute to respond to the challenges that women and girls face during and after conflicts. Teso Women Peace Activists (TEWPA), designs peace building and conflict resolution projects/programs that are issue based; and organize focused peace building training for TOTs in communities, for sustainability and as an effort to create lasting peace. TEWPA’s focus is peacebuilding, conflict transformation, democratization and human rights.Read More “Meet Our Partner- Teso Women Peace Activists”
In this 51st edition of Women’s World, we hear from 7 women peacebuilders from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, South Sudan and Uganda- who are long-term partners of the Peace Centre and alumnae of the Feminist Leadership Institute. Through their journeys and deliberations, we look back at 20 years of agitating for women’s participation in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building; at our efforts to prevent, end and respond to conflict-related sexual violence; and to ensure gender-response relief and recovery through various means.
Akol Ketty is a woman leader and a testament to women’s ability to build peace and influence change against all odds.
When we first met Akol in August 2019, she had served as a Community Mobiliser, Facilitator, Councilor and most recently as the Vice Chairperson in Kapelebyong District Local Government. She had first hand experience of the limitations women experience as they seek to take leadership or to address the issues that make elections violent and undemocratic.
“Women are often discouraged from taking on leadership positions, they always receive negative comments from men and fellow women saying they cannot stand for some positions because they are earmarked for men. Women are also denied participation in political processes by their husbands, who often think that women will be exposed to other men. Women in my community could not balance home and leadership roles. They had no confidence to speak in public,” Akol recounts.
The Peace Centre in partnership with the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Conflict Early Warning and Early Response system (CEWERU) convened a two day feedback meeting from 10th- 11th March with the National Steering Committee to share early warning reports from the Peace Committees in Kotido, Yumbe and Adjumani and discuss effective and early response to prevent and mitigate conflicts in Uganda. The feedback meeting will be used in laying of strategies and actions for reduction of conflict and violence in Uganda.
“I used to see conflicts happening in my community but I was silent about it because I didn’t know I had the power to influence change and contribute to peace Janet Ayoo Kelly declares.
Janet Ayoo Kelly, aged 28 years is a first time refugee living in Maaji III refugee settlement, Adjumani district in West Nile, Uganda. In July 2016, she fled her hometown, Magwi in South Sudan with her first child who was 2 years old at the time.
However, the situation upon arriving in Uganda was very difficult. “We left all the resources we had worked hard to gain and fled with nothing I had hoped to settle down and rebuild my life”she recalls. She is part of a group that makes bed sheets and tablecloths a source of income for their families. Janet is also now the secretary for the Adjumani Women Peace Mediators Network.
In December 2019, Janet was one of 156 women leaders from Kotido, Yumbe and Adjumani districts trained on peacebuilding and reconciliation by the Peace Centre with the support of UN Women. Following the training, the women leaders formed Women Peace Mediators Networks.
In Maaji III refugee settlement, the women peace mediators developed a community action plan to ensure their participation in peace building right from their homes to the wider community. Since then, women peace mediators have identified, reported and mediated 300 conflict incidents including conflict between refugee and host communities and gender-based violence specifically early marriages that led to withdrawal of girls from schools.
In February 2020, the women peace mediators met again in Nyumanzi settlement to discuss their peacebuilding efforts and learn from experiences in Adjumani, Yumbe and Kotido. Janet learnt of the work that her fellow peace mediators were doing in their communities . She was touched by their stories such as the case involving a young girl form a poor family whose father was forcing her to get married to an elderly rich man who lives in America. The mediators engaged the girl’s family, who abandoned the idea and asked the women to pay for her school fees since they wanted her in school. The women peace mediators then referred the girl to an organization for a scholarship.
Janet also recalls the stories from Kotido where women were mediating large scale conflicts., the The women peace mediators had convened 14 peace dialogues resolve the conflict characterised by rampant cattle raids, illegal guns owned by civilians, food insecurity, sexual and gender based violence against women and girls.
On 10th May 2020, a small disagreement among five Nuer and Dinka youth in Maaji II refugee settlement escalated into a violent tribal conflict leaving two young men dead. Janet was spurred to action.
“As women peace mediators we realized that the situation was getting out of hand. The situation was very tense, with women and children running up and down. Immediately we gathered together to agree on what to do. We informed the Peace Centre who guided us. We then made a phone call to the refugee settlement commandant asking him urgently to call the police to intervene” Janet recounts.
The Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Refugee Desk Office, and District Police Commander immediately responded by deploying police to calm the situation. Janet and the other women peace mediators also took further action.“We rescued the children from the two families who were being attacked for having started the fights and kept them in a safe place“Together with other leaders in Maaji we continued comforting the family that had lost their son and the one whose son was missing and later found dead. We convinced the families not to get involved in the fight and keep away from revenge as it would only cause more harm”she narrates.
Twelve days later, on 22nd May 2020 The Peace Centre convened a peace mediation dialogue in Maaji with key leaders including the RDC, District chairperson LC 5, District Vice Chairperson LC 5, District Peace Committee, Office of the Prime Minister, UNHCR, Lutheran World Federation, Refugee Law Project, Religious, Cultural, political leaders and the Adjumani women peace mediators. The dialogue discussed the conflict situation, identified the triggers and agreed on specific actions to take to ensure conflict indicators are reported to the police and other duty bearers before they escalate.
During the mediation dialogue, the women peace mediators identified the dark hot spots where the violent youth were hiding such as the banana plantation which was acting as their habitat. Janet and the mediators also made specific demands. “We wrote to the Office of the Prime Minister requesting for security lights in the settlement blocks where the youths were hiding to chase and beat women moving to access the health centre at night. I was personally affected by this. I gave birth on the way because I was afraid to pass at the dark spot alone at night when labor started. The lights were installed” she shares.
The women peace mediators continued their work in a follow up mediation dialogue w on 1st July 2020 where conflict early warning indicators were presented to the leaders for redress.
“For sustainable peace in the settlement we continued to engage with the youth and their families by encouraging them to keep calm and sensitizing them about the consequences of violent actions to their lives and families”, Janet narrates. She explains how the work of the women peace mediators brought positive changes, “we continued to monitor conflict early warning indicators and shared with the leaders for their action. For example some youth were spotted in the evenings with walking sticks. Others were seen holding isolated meetings in the local languages. Each tribe stopped their members from crossing where the other tribes live, which kept people in fear. “I am celebrating my breakthrough because of the hard work. I believe that peace is possible with women at the lead. I am now seeing friendship being nurtured again between the Nuer and Dinka youths. They have started having friendly football matches again.
“My skills have doubled. I can now analyze the conflicts and participate in peace building more effectively. I used to see conflicts happening in my community but I was silent about it because I didn’t know I had the power to influence change and contribute to peace,” Janet says, reflecting on her growth as a leader and a peace builder. I am very grateful to the Peace Centre and UN Women for the skills I obtained. I’m proud to be a peace mediator in my community” says Janet.
This Monday, we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women on International Women’s Day(IWD). Marked annually on March 8th, IWD is one of the most important days of the year to: celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, fundraise for female-focused charities. This year, IWD is being celebrated under the theme “Women in leadership achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” celebrates the remarkable efforts by women to shape a more equitable future after COVID-19.Read More “Celebrating Women’s day in a COVID-19 World”
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. Read More “100 women/youth leaders in Soroti District trained as peace advocates.”
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: 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. 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.Read More “Meeting with Conflict Analysts and Monitors in Adjumani District.”
The Peace Centre in partnership with Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAP) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) conducted research on Gender, Peace and Environmental conflicts. The research demonstrates the intersection between the environmental conflict, peace and gender and provides recommendations for the International Community for how it can better ensure that women and girls’ human rights can be delivered despite environmental degradation and climate change.
This report was made possible by funding from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
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 with the support of Womankind Worldwide and Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) joined 200 organizations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nigeria, Palestine, Somalia, Uganda and Ukraine to conduct a research on the impact of COVID-19 on gender equality, peace and security. This study outlines recommendations for the local, national and international community to better respond to COVID-19, future pandemics and crises, as well as deliver on their commitments to the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
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.
COVID-19 has transformed the world of work. Remote working has become the new normal for most people, with communications largely moving to the digital space. This has had a strong impact on the work of human rights defenders and the way they defend, promote, and protect rights.
The Office of the United Nations High for Human Rights (OHCHR) collected stories of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) on the African continent to increase the visibility of WHRDs’ work in the process of the pandemic and create a source of information to inform COVID-19 recovery programming and policymaking for WHRDs. OHCHR aims to provide a platform for WHRDs to document and exchange their experiences in the context of COVID-19 and to build solidarity among them.
The Peace Centre’s Project Officer, Diana Oroma shares her perspective on the Women Peace and Security and the Pandemic.
The Peace Centre, in partnership with Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare and National Transformational Leadership Institute conducted a five-day training for 21 young women between 18 and 35, from various background representing high school graduates, university students and graduates, CSOs, FBOs, NGOs, women’s associations, political parties and government institutions on women, peace and security from 27th to 31st July 2020 to strengthen young women’s leadership skills, equip them to gather information, conduct gendered analysis of current peace and security issues and engage in advocacy for the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.
This report highlights the key discussions during the training.
The Peace Centre with the support of Womankind Worldwide and Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) undertook a research in Uganda to better understand the context-specific and global gender, peace and security impacts of COVID-19 and develop policy and programming responses which account for the impact of COVID-19.
The findings indicate the gendered effects of COVID-19 on vulnerable and marginalised groups in the urban, rural and refugee settlement contexts. The findings highlight the impact of the pandemic on the community, especially on women’s and girls’ roles, responsibilities, needs and livelihoods. They also highlight gender-based violence (GBV), as well as how these different groups of women and girls are coping with the crisis.
This research, undertaken by a consortium of organisations including Gender Action Peace and Security (GAPS), Somali Women Development Centre (SWDC), Saferworld, Women for Women International, Women’s International Peace Centre (The Peace Centre), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) Nigeria and Womankind Worldwide. This research report, funded by the UK’s Conflict, Security and Stability Fund (CSSF), sets out recommendations for modalities to fund, support and strengthen WROs and CSOs, as well as enable the UK, CSSF Africa and the international community – including donors, multilateral and INGOs – to better understand the challenges and opportunities for WROs and CSOs working on peace and security issues in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and globally. This report outlines the findings and recommendations of this research and is supplemented by country-specific reports for Nigeria, SouthSudan and Somalia.
This report looks back into the year and describes what we have accomplished with our Partners. The Peace Centre contributed to enhancing the expertise of women leaders to participate in peace processes in Burundi, DRC, Nepal, South Sudan and Uganda through the Feminist Leadership Institute on Peace and Security, learning exchanges and mentorship support. Making information available for women to influence decision-making in peace processes in Uganda and South Sudan. Claiming space and influencing Peace Processes at all levels and in promoting the holistic wellbeing of women, we continue working with support groups of women living with HIV and AIDS in post-conflict North-eastern Uganda to support their access to sustainable livelihood opportunities.
‘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.
From 25th to 26th February 2020, The Peace Centre with support from FOKUS and UN Women convened a dialogue under the theme “The South Sudan Peace Process; The Role and Prospects for Refugee Women” to provide a platform for refugee women to understand and receive updates on the peacebuilding processes, link the refugee women with other women involved in advocacy towards engendering the peace processes in South Sudan and ignite women’s ability to participate in the formal and informal peacebuilding processes right from the refugee settlement for sustainable peace in South Sudan.
This report shares details of the proceedings of the conference.
This learning paper is based on evidence and learning from an intersectional women’s movement initiative delivered through collaboration in 2019 between six Uganda based women’s rights organisations; Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW), National Association for Women’s Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU), National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU), Women’s International Peace Centre, (The Peace Centre) and by Womankind Worldwide, within the project Women’s Advocacy for Voice and Empowerment (WAVE) through inclusive platforms in Uganda.
We are in Arua conducting a 3 days training for District Peace Committee members, monitors and analysts targeting Electoral Commission officers, Police, District Community Development Officer, National Women Council, youth, Persons with disability representative, district information officer, CSOs and Religious institutional representatives supported by DGF Uganda. The training aims to enhance capacity of peace committee’s members to detect early warning conflict, respond and mediate conflict that may arise before, during and after election.
Women’s International Peace Centre in partnership with EVE Organization for Women Development and Community Empowerment Progress Organization (CEPO), conducted training under the theme “Rejuvenating the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Towards participation and implementation of the UNSCR 1325 National Action Planon advocacy for South Sudan National Action Plan on the UNSCR 1325.
The training brought together 25 participants including gender technical staff from the line ministries both at national and state level, women members of parliament from the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and women representatives of the civil society working on the UNSCR 1325 South Sudan NAP.
The training evaluated and audited the implementation of the National Action Plan; enhanced skills in advocacy and effective reporting on the NAP of the UNSCR 1325 and enhanced women’s effective participation in leadership and peacebuilding and strengthening gender perspectives in South Sudan’s states building and reconstruction.
From 29th to 31st October 2019, Women’s International Peace Centre and Uganda Women Parliamentary Association hosted a Regional Exchange Visit for women leaders from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo to facilitate experiential learning, practical lessons and skills on how to influence the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and to strengthen movement building and lobbying for policy influence
This report highlights discussions during the Regional Exchange Visit.
Between 20th to 24th June 2019, Women’s International Peace Centre in partnership with the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children’s Affairs, Karibu Jeunesse Nouvelle (KJN) and Association des Femmes Des Medias (AFEM)) conducted a Feminist Leadership Institute for 20 women leaders including Politicians, Lawyers, Lecturers, Socio-workers, and Community leaders from Kalehe, Walungu, Kabare and Bukavu in South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Women’s International Peace Centre with support from Forum for Women in Development (FOKUS) conducted a research study to examine the opportunities, constraints and extent to which women influence the peace process in South Sudan.
This research answers the following questions; i)What are the conflict trends, dynamics their significance for ongoing peace processes in South Sudan? To what extent do these advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda? ii)What is the level of participation and representation of women in the peace process in South Sudan? iii)What are the opportunities and constraints and to what extent do women influence the peace processes, such as seen in the national dialogue, the security sector reform, the constitutional reform and the transitional government in South Sudan; iv)How can women and in particular young women’s advocacy efforts be supported in ways that create new spaces for them to engage key decision makers at national, regional and international levels?
Women’s participation in peace processes is critical for sustaining peace. Notwithstanding, women face several barriers that limit their effective representation and influence in peace processes. Research shows that the political participation and leadership of women in fragile environments, particularly during democratic transitions, is critical to sustaining lasting democratic institutions.
A study carried out in Juba, South Sudan by the Women International Peace Centre shows that sustainable peace in South Sudan depends on empowering women and tackling obstacles to their participation in peace processes. The research was carried out to examine opportunities, constraints and the extent to which women are taking part in implementing the peace agreement in South Sudan.
This Policy Brief highlights the barriers to women’s participation in peace processes and shares recommendations.
Women are recognized signatories to the Revitalised Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). South Sudan has also put in place policy frameworks and institutions in support of the women, peace and security agenda. If South Sudan is to achieve sustainable peace and fulfil the R-ARCSS, measures that promote women’s participation and tackle associated barriers should be adopted.
A study carried out in Juba-South Sudan by the Women’s International Peace Centre shows that sustainable peace in South Sudan depends on the full implementation of gender provisions within the R-ARCSS. The study examined the extent to which gender has been mainstreamed in the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.
This Policy Brief highlights the barriers to the full implementation of the R-ARCSS and shares recommendations.
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.Read More “Adaption of Early Warning Tools for District Monitors in Arua, Kapelebyong, and Kasanda”
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.Read More “20 Years of African Women’s Participation in Women Peace and Security: Civil Society Perspectives”
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).
This discussion paper brings together three regional essays commissioned to explore what needs to happen. What needs to happen to ‘transform power’ to women and communities most affected by crises and conflict so that they shape the decisions that affect their lives? What would a feminist peace and security agenda look like? The essays illustrate how transformative change rarely comes from within the system; rather, it often comes from outside: from disruption by protest, and from women’s, youth, local and grassroots movements.
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.Read More “Training of Analysts to Examine Data and Produce Monthly Reports”
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.
Between January and June Women’s International Peace Centre with and partners International Center for Transitional Justice-Uganda, African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET), Refugee Law Project (RLP), The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Uganda) partnered with TRAC FM to collect real-time data from citizens using polls on the themes of the transitional justice policy. Through an interactive radio campaign, citizens discussed their conflict experiences, the lingering impact of human rights violations, efforts of government and other actors and appropriate measures for recovery, reconciliation and redress for victims and war-affected communities moving forward.
The purpose of this report is to share data and present citizens’ views and recommendations related to transitional justice to inform action by all stakeholders including government institutions, traditional and religious institutions and civil society.
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.Read More “Feminist Leadership Institute 2020”
In June, The Peace Centre concluded a 5-year project in partnership with Akwenyutu People Living with HIV/AIDS (APHAS) in conflict-affected North-eastern Uganda. The project aimed to build the resilience of women and enable them transfer the acquired skills and competences in livelihood boosting and peace building to the community.
This reflective report titled ‘Women Changing the Face of HIV&AIDS and Building Peace’ highlights the project impact, lessons learnt and the future plans for the group.
Local women-led organisations (WLO) and women’s rights organisations (WRO) play critically important roles in crisis response, but their efforts often lack both political and financial support. On 16th July, the UN launched an updated Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) for COVID-19. Women’s International Peace Centre took part in this survey led by CAFOD, CARE International UK, ActionAid, Danish Church Aid and Oxfam who partnered with local WLO and WRO partners in Lebanon, Jordan, Bangladesh, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories and South Sudan to gather a snap-shot of the Covid19 response to date in terms of access to funding, partnerships and decision-making for WLO/WROs.
The joint policy brief summarises findings and recommendations on direct funding to these groups, indirect funding via international intermediary organisations (including UN agencies and INGOs), their participation in humanitarian coordination processes and post-COVID19 recovery.
From 19th to 25th June 2020, The Peace Centre facilitated the meeting of District Peace Committee meetings that had a total of 142 (42 females and 100 males) participants. The meetings provided platforms where Women Peace Mediators presented women peace and security concerns including; the impact of COVID 19 on women, increasing conflicts in the project districts that called for the safety of women and girls, spaces for women’s participation in peacebuilding, peace meetings and complete disarmament, protection of the unprotected kraals, tracking and recovery of stolen animals, need to resume peace initiatives since the Warriors took advantage of the lockdown and conflicts escalated.
In June, women leaders who were trained by the Peace Centre, Karibu Jeunesse Nouvelle (KJN) and Association des Femmes des Medias (AFEM) on practical strategies to promote women’s participation in post-conflict governance in 2019 were interviewed to track their progress. The training aimed at strengthening the capacity of women leaders to engage in and influence post-conflict decision-making and governance as well as demand accountability from policymakers towards actualizing the meaningful inclusion of women in governance and decision making in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Since 2019 the trained women leaders, have held community awareness sessions and dialogues on the need for women’s participation at all decision-making levels; the rights and responsibilities for women and girls, and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and also mitigated land conflicts. The awareness sessions also targeted schools and Universities, encouraging young women to join politics, to position themselves in leadership structures and the political system in preparation for the 2023 legislative elections. As a result, 5 young women joined the communication unit of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress Party (UDPS).
Thanks to Bukavu’s training, I feel very equipped and reassured. When my UDPS Party was coming to implant up in my community, I used all the strategies learnt to position myself. I grab a strategic position in this party, I am now the President of the party’s women’s league in my locality. Now it is me who will be identifying and recruiting other women to join and advocate for their interests. Bora – Elysée
Although women constitute the highest statistic demographically compared to men (52%), this has not been influential in terms of their political participation. Several factors justify this including; traditional and cultural barriers with their consequences on women’s perceptions and self-esteem and gender-based violence; poverty and illiteracy, insufficient resources allocated to women’s leadership structures and weak coordination of women’s organizations, Persistent discrimination against women in the legal framework and non-compliance, instability, political tensions and the existence of conflict zones (Kasai, Tanganyika, South Kivu, North Kivu, Ituri). In light of this situation, the training contributed to the awareness of women leaders in South Kivu on this situation and build their capacities and skills to improve on their representation.
The women leaders at the June 2019 training institute not only learnt more about transformation leadership, women’s political leadership and UNSCR 1325 but they also shared their experiences as women’s rights activists, the lessons from their work in their communities as well the benefit of their leadership experiences both good and bad. During this institute, they strengthened their network of women leaders in the province.
A resource by Women for Women International on ensuring the inclusion of marginalised women in fragile and conflict states in COVID-19 prevention, response and recovery.
‘Unheard. Unseen.’ identifies five priority action areas and provides analysis and recommendations on the important policy changes that are so urgently needed for marginalised women affected by conflict. The report, also outlines how important it is to create space for marginalised women in conflict-affected countries to share their experiences and influence change.
The Peace Centre, Karibu Jeunesse Nouvelle (KJN) and Association des Femmes des Medias (AFEM) work in partnership to strengthen women’s capacity as change agents in peace building and post-conflict governance in South Kivu, Eastern D.R.C. On 29th May an online meeting was held for partners to assess the current situation as impacted by COVID-19, understand the implications for planned activities and agree on a way forward. With a steep increase in gender-based violence, women’s exclusion from decision-making on COVID-19 response and limited access to information on preventive measure, the partners agreed to prioritise addressing these issues. As a result, the meeting defined future activities to include, translating key messages on COVD-19 prevention into local languages, radio talk shows and community meetings by women peace builders to sensitise the public on COVID-19. The Peace Centre also committed to conduct a training webinar on wellness and self-care to support the wellbeing and work of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Bukavu.
On 16th June, the Peace Centre and National Alliance for Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) Nepal also held an online meeting to discuss the current COVID-19 dynamics and prepare for the upcoming training of Deputy Mayors and District Vice Chairpersons in Kathmandu on gender budgeting, gender-responsive district planning and wellness under the theme Transformed Leadership for Transformation. The partners agreed on a timeline and methodology for the planned profiling of the work and impact of the institute’s alumnae in Nepal since 2007 including the previously trained Deputy Mayors and District Vice-Chairpersons.
2020 marks the sixth global annual International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. This year has been particularly challenging for the entire world with the COVID-19 pandemic but much more for women and girls’ refugees, who are already living in very difficult circumstances with limited access to social services and livelihood options. COVID-19 and the measures put in place by governments to curb its spread has led to increased human rights violations and particularly painfully, to sexual violence against refugee women and girls’. Despite the March 23, 2020, global call for ceasefire by the UN Secretary-General, conflicts have continued in many countries exposing women and girls to displacements and increased risk of sexual violence. This is not to say that it is absent in so-called peaceful countries; in fact, sexual violence has increased globally due to COVID-19. This blog discusses sexual violence against refugees women and girls in the time of COVID-19.
Globally the extent of conflict-related sexual violence is not known as a result of underreporting associated with stigma and intimidation of survivors, lack of adequate response mechanisms for survivors and reporting barriers particularly for refugee women and girls. The United Nations Secretary General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) indicates that both state and non-state actors are responsible for sexual violence, which has been used to displace communities. We see examples across conflict-affected Africa. In South Sudan, allied militia raped women and girls as part of a campaign to drive opponents out of southern Unity State. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Twa and Luba militia used sexual violence as a means of repression, terror and control. In Burundi, armed actors gang-raped and sexually humiliated detainees perceived as political opponents. In Nigeria, sexual violence has been used as a tactic of terrorism as women and girls have been targeted for abduction and sexual abuse by extremist groups.
Women and girls forcibly displaced by conflict and seeking refuge from violence remain at risk. In refugee situations data on the true prevalence of sexual and gender based violence during COVID-19 is lacking. However, preliminary data obtained from the Women’s International Peace Centre-trained Women Peace Mediators provides the nature, causes and responses to sexual violence against women and girls in refugee contexts in West Nile, northern Uganda. The most prevalent cases include defilement, early and forced marriages, survival sex and domestic violence.
Defilement: in the month of April and May, Women Peace Mediators reported seven (7) defilement cases involving girls aged 14 to 17 years in Zones 1, 3 & 5 in Yumbe and Maaji refugee camps in Adjumani. Two of the perpetrators were arrested, one ran away and the other is negotiating to marry the victim. There has been no follow up with the cases as the police is more concerned with ensuring that the population adhere to COVID-19 lockdown rules. Some parents due to shame and stigma prefer to negotiate with the perpetrator to marry the victim and earn money from bridal dowry. In some cases, parents falsify the age of their daughters by increasing it to 18 years or above so she is forced to marry the perpetrator.
Forced marriages: Six (6) cases of young girls forced to marry during COVID-19 have been reported in Nyumanzi refugee resettlement. Many parents who cannot afford to take care of their families are forcing young girls to marry and limiting their opportunity to finish school. Another reported case of forced marriage is of a 17-year-old girl who was raped by a 23-year-old man, and has been forced to marry the perpetrator. This situation is made worse by limited access to health care services in the refugee settlements. The Women Peace Mediators were able to refer the survivor for emergency post-rape medical care and counselling. The social norms and practices impede access to justice for these young women rape survivors by pushing for marriages to the perpetrator
In April 2020 the World Food Programme announced reduction in food ration for over 1.4million refugees in Uganda, South Sudan DRC and Burundi due to COVID-19. This has led to increased domestic violence among refugees in northern Uganda as food rations have been reduced from 12kg to 8kg which is barely enough for families. Due to restricted movement many cannot go out to work and earn additional money to provide for the family, the lack of enough food is leading to tensions within the household and domestic violence against women from men demanding for food or who sell off the ration received to supplement for other household needs. In Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe District, the Women Peace Mediators recorded thirty-six (36) domestic violence cases in April and forty-two (42) cases in May 2020.
Survival sex: Many young women have fallen prey to older men who are offering money for items such as sanitary pads, food and panties. This is because a lot of families cannot afford these basic items due to high poverty levels particularly among refugees who do not have access to paid work or diverse livelihood sources. In addition, with the lockdown and limited movement opportunities to earn a living are squashed even further. Young women who get pregnant often engage in unsafe abortions, as there is limited access to reproductive health services, thus exposing them to further reproductive health risks and in some cases, or death.
The main challenges from the forgoing are that COVID-19 is increasing poverty and vulnerabilities of refugee women and girls to sexual and gender based violence. Yet, little attention is paid to this horrendous impact of COVID-19. Most of the resources for COVID-19 are being used to ensure security, thus replicating responses in traditional conflict or crisis setting where attention is paid to securing the borders and amassing tools to enforce state security at the expense of human security.
As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict all stakeholders must ensure women and girls refugees are safe and live in dignity. To achieve this, it is important that humanitarian response ensure enough food is available for refugees. Interventions working to reduce and eliminate sexual violence need to be scaled up to ensure deterrence and end impunity, perpetrators must be apprehended and penalised to ensure justice for victims. Responses by all actors should take a holistic approach that addresses the socio economic needs of refugee women and girls . In addition, all COVID-19 committees at all levels should include refugees women and girls to ensure their needs and concerns are taken into account in all decision-making and implementation of the response including post COVID-19 planning.
Between 6th and 10th June, The Peace Centre partnered with District Local Governments of Lira, Soroti, Gulu, Arua, Kotido and civil society partners (Teso Women’s Peace Activists (TEWPA) in Tubur, Soroti, Nakere Rural Women Activists (NARWOA) in Panyangar, Kotido, Refugee Law Project in Awach-Paibona, Gulu, African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) in Ogur, Lira and Uganda Victims Foundation in Dadamu, Arua to conduct 5 community dialogues at sub-county level on Transitional Justice. These gathered 75 local leaders and community members (especially women and victims’ representatives) to raise awareness of the Transitional Justice Policy, reflect on the radio poll questions, discuss key post-conflict concerns and make specific recommendations to leaders.
These community dialogues provided an opportunity for off-air discussions with community members whose voices were typically excluded from radio discussions and responses to polls, which required access to mobile phones, radio, and time away from domestic tasks occurring during radio prime time. Specifically, the dialogues sought to engage, capture and amplify the voices of victims/survivors at the grassroots level, including typically excluded groups such as women and persons with disability to discuss their post-conflict concerns and engage their leaders to take action.
The Kotido Resident District Commissioner, Chief Accounting Officer and Regional Police Inspector provided an update on compensation cases, acknowledged challenges in the justice system and committed to following up on documented violations such as cattle raids, domestic violence and gender-based violence to ensure action is taken and provide updates. In Lira, the Community Development Officer and LC 3 Chair person committed to engage cultural leaders and Parish Chiefs to follow up on the cases of evicted formerly abducted women and children in Ogur sub-county and ensure their return to the land.
The Peace Centre on 12th June joined the African Union Youth Envoy, the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building and ACCORD South Africa to discuss conflict prevention and mitigation as well as the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the strategies and work of women and young women peacebuilders. The online conversation included reflections on how the women, peace and security and youth peace and security frameworks can be used to tackle the impact of COVID-19.
COVID-19 has taught us to rethink the Youth Peace and Security Agenda to the Youth, Peace and Development agenda. Exclusion of youth has not worked and we need to move the narrative from youth as perpetrators of violence to youth as agents of Peace.- Aya Chebbi, AU Youth Envoy
It is time we change the approach to peacebuilding; we need to make sure that there is a deliberate and conscious effort that Women Peace and Security is equal to the Youth Peace and Security agenda. We must not replicate the discrimination against women to young women.- Helen Kezie-Nwoha, Executive Director, Women’s International Peace Centre
The only way that we will be able to deliver on the Youth Peace and Security agenda and the Women Peace and Security agenda is when we come together. But this will require Africa’s Governments to help us overcome divides created by weak infrastructure. – Verlaine-Diane Soobroydoo, Policy Advisor on Women Peace and Security Focal Person, African Women Leaders Network.
We need to be inclusive and understand the unique challenges and opportunities for grassroots organising- Pravina Makan-Lakha,, General Manager Operations, ACCORD.
The need to engage more of the grassroots community youth mediators especially young women to build sustainable peace is the way to go.- Natasha Mutuwa, Coordinator, Young Women’s Network for Peace.
The Peace Centre shared from the experience of on-going work with women peacebuilders and Women Mediators Networks in refugee settlements and hosting districts in Uganda. Participants in the dialogue also discussed the impact of the pandemic on the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and explored opportunities to develop resilience and move the WPS agenda forward.
Uganda currently hosts over 1.4million refugees and asylum seekers under her open-door policy according to Uganda Comprehensive Refugee Portal. 82% of them are women and children and approximately 61.8% of all refugees are from South Sudan. COVID-19 has forced a lot of changes to the world we live in. Refugees already far away from home, are having to cope with lockdown restrictions, food reductions amidst the pandemic. They face immense and unique challenges that make some communities more vulnerable to infectious diseases – from living in close quarters to lack of clean water for handwashing. This pandemic, therefore, presents a worrying situation for the refugees in Uganda as the country is under lockdown; social distancing is almost impossible, food distribution and access to necessities such as health care are curtailed by the movement restrictions resulting from the lockdown and evening curfews hence worsening the pre-existing challenges in settlements.
“Covid 19 lockdowns and quarantines seem to be reducing crime rates outside. But inside- at home- increased rates of domestic abuse are a reminder of another kind of global pandemic; violence against women and children.” – Mona Elthaway
As COVID-19 threatens refugee settlements around the world, it is becoming more urgent to listen to the voices of women to better understand their needs and coping strategies during this period. Listen to our mini-podcast series that gives you a brief look in the world of the refugee women coping and surviving COVID-19 in Nyumanzi and Bidibidi settlements in Uganda here
Martine Kaliza Mirindi is an alumna of the 2013/14 Leadership Institute promoting women’s and girls’ rights and advocating for peaceful resolution of conflicts in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is the founder of Women for Democracy and Fight against Violence (WDFV), is very passionate about serving and defending the rights of the most vulnerable. Martine holds an Advanced Degree in Law, specializing in Private and Judicial law from Université Ouverte/CIDP-Nord –Kivu completed in 2007 Martine intends to join political leadership to apply her innovative ideas for the common good of the people of the DRC. She is also passionate about a number of things including love, nature, music, drama, dance.
Martine, the Natural Leader
“I am passionate about feminist leadership and often I think for me it was inborn because even in our family, there is no decision that can be taken without my say. This applies to my work as well as in all the associations and groups where I belong, I am always chosen as a leader. I believed that the institute would help me to gain sufficient knowledge and the necessary tools on leadership.”
Participating in the 2013/14 Leadership Institute on Peace Building and Human Security
Martine chose to take part in the institute in order to enhance her leadership and peace building skills but also understand the experiences of other women leaders. The institute lived up to her expectations and she readily lists some of the key lessons that are maki a difference in her work.
“I clearly understood, what it means to be a leader, how one becomes a leaders and ways to overcome our challenges as women leaders. The facilitators positively impacted my time with the institute.We always had to give feedback about what we had learnt during the training and mine was always positive feedback. It was quite a good interaction because it strengthened both the young women and senior members of civil society organizations in the training.“
Following the training, Martine was able to work out different strategies in order to succeed even in small things that she often neglected but were very important for the community. She raised awareness among women who were not formally educated, to get them involved in public life at the grassroots level. Martine replicated her institute experience and focused on strengthening the women’s leadership skills for the benefit of the community.
Challenges of Women’s Leadership
Despite her passion and drive, Martine talks about the challenges demoralizing women peace builders. She mentions stigma, the lack of meaningful progress in the fight to promote women’s rights, and some men who are opposed to the common cause of women’s empowerment.
“In order to overcome these challenges, we have been organizing meetings among women themselves as well as those with men in order to discuss and share knowledge on themes about women’s rights advancement. It has helped a lot in bringing cohesion and harmony as well as leading to some men to be part of the women’s cause.”
Martine has several plans and dreams for African women, for instance, giving them the opportunity to design projects and receive support to meet the needs of vulnerable people. She hopes to use all she has learned from various trainings to contribute to enriching women’s work.
“I have attended several training sessions at the national level in Kinshasa, at the provincial level in Nord Kivu and South Kivu as well as on the international level in Burundi, Rwanda, Thailand and Uganda. The trainings focused on advocacy, electoral processes, gender-based violence, UNSCR 1325, civic education, gender and elections, restorative justice, gender and protection, leadership and gender mainstreaming in projects.“
Advice to Younger Women Leaders
Martine advises, “In order to be able to participate in the decision making processes, join non-violent movements, women groups or political parties. Engage in entrepreneurship so as to economically empower yourself as a young leaders. Consider attending the Leadership Institute.”
In closing, Martine highlights the importance of solidarity among women as critical to promoting gender equality in professional life and in day to day activities.
What is your role at Women’s International Peace Centre ?
I’m a Project Assistant and Focal Point for South Sudan at Women’s International Peace Centre. It is an exciting job as I engage with many people that share our vision as an organization. The young enthusiastic women are the most exciting because we have mutual dreams and goals for the women and girls of South Sudan.
I’m the go-to person for news updates on South Sudan especially those in line with women, peace and security.
What led you to this career?
I grew up in a foreign country and never got experience from my country, South Sudan. I listened to grievances of my people and this was motivation enough for me to build myself to be of influence to humanitarian interventions, policy formulation and implementation. I have also read a number of books and articles urging young people to pay attention to politics and policies. This is the only way our livelihoods will not be legislated out of existence. This is why I chose governance and international relations.
What’s one professional skill you are currently working on?
I am working on building my conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills. My aim is to become one of the experts and strategists seeking to realize lasting global peace.
What’s your go-to productivity trick?
I watch documentaries related to the work I do which ignites my motivation. These are usually sad documentaries on conflict and post-conflict situations because of the long conflicts in South Sudan. This reminds me of the urgency and need to get the work done now.
Music is also helpful especially preparing a playlist to match the work I’m about to do. In addition to that, I inform those around me about the work that I need to do so that they hold me accountable for what is not done. These have been quite helpful and I would recommend that we explore what works for us to be productive at all times. Let’s not forget the in-between 5-10 minute breaks with fruits and nuts.
How has COVID-19 affected you or what have you learnt about the importance of our work during this time?
From anxiety to panic to acceptance. The coronavirus disease has affected my personal and work routines. It is exasperating to believe that 2020 was going to be a great year not only for me but women working for peace and security. With the closure of borders and restrictions put in place, there has been a negative impact on sources of livelihood and other existential activities. Sexual violence and gender-based violence continues to prevail even through the pandemic. This is a lesson learnt for feminist organisations. We must continue to strive to provide physiological needs, protection and legal services to women and girls across the world.
What energizes you at work?
Believe it or not, I like organizing materials. A new set of pens, notebooks or sticky notes always renew my motivation to do my work. In addition to this, I like collective or communal work where we have to work together to achieve an objective. It is always exciting to get ideas from colleagues. The happy hour that prioritizes wellness at The Centre is another powerful energizer that encourages us to relax and have discussions that are not work-related. This helps us to relax and resume work with fresh and optimistic minds.
The one thing that surprised me about working at the centre was wide-ranging nature of women, peace and security(WPS). Before I joined the Peace Centre, I never imagined how broad the WPS agenda is. I am learning and I love it. It has created a community of women that I can rely on to increase my knowledge and skills and further transform my attitude as a young woman professional.
What is a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
Being able to take the lead in creating a platform for 20 South Sudanese young women has been a bonus in my work-related accomplishments collection. This group that is called Young Women Leading for Peace has got enthusiastic brave and talented young women that are working to contribute to sustainable peace in South Sudan.
If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?
I would really love to become an expert in conflict resolution, building peace and leading a country with accountability and legitimacy. This is driven from the passion I have to exist and live peacefully with others in a nurturing and fair environment. Imagine having robust skills, attitude and knowledge to bring sustainable peace in the world. We need this expertise now more than ever now.
What energizes you outside of work?
Shopping. Be it clothes, tiny necklaces, home décor, perfumes or food for my myself and my loved ones. Music is another powerful energizer. I don’t want to imagine a world without music. If I have many errands and chores waiting for me, I usually lose the interest to do them but with music, anything is possible.
What is one book or moment that changed you, and why?
Evening Primroseby Kopana Matlwa. From the beginning of the book, I knew it was going to change me. It highlighted the vital role of love and acceptance of oneself and others. I recommend it to everyone.
What is one of your favorite memories from the past year?
Definitely my graduation day. I felt many things. I was nervous but mostly excited. I finally saw myself a step closer to becoming Dr. Juan, for the thrill of it and because Dr. looks great attached my name. I had obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Governance and International Relations with honours. I think the best gift to give every child is education. Education coupled with life skills nurture us, build us and expose us to all that life offers.
What advice would you give to women interested in working to advancethe women, peace and security agenda?
I would advise them to be as committed and consistent as possible. Read and build intellect. Self-care is important. You have to take care of yourself so that you take care of others. It is a great field and we should all be part of it.
With more COVID-19 cases being reported in neighbouring South Sudan and DRC, refugees crossing the porous Uganda borders and more conflict incidences reported by Women Mediators Networks, The Peace Centre extended support to the district COVID-19 response taskforces of Yumbe, Adjumani and Kotido to scale up prevention and response measures. Fuel was provided which enabled the task force to coordinate emergency response activities including the provision of health care services, awareness-raising campaign on preventive measures and individual case management of other emergencies. The Peace Centre is now a member of the Districts COVID 19 response taskforces and participates in the decision-making and coordination structures.
Between 19th and 25th May, The Peace Centre team checked on the progress of women leaders in Arua, Kassanda and Kapelebyong who were trained on participation in decision-making processes, early warning and early response, electoral processes, conflict monitoring and reporting. The exercise also sought to identify any challenges and capacity support needs.
Some of the key achievements reported include;
Women leaders trained have mobilized and are encouraging other women to contest for different political positions in their communities and continued sensitizing communities on their duty to report any intimidation and violence cases.
The trained women have also mediated conflict incidents within the communities especially domestic violence cases that have been rampant during the lockdown period. Akol Ketty from Kapelebyong sub-county mediated a case where a child was badly beaten and sent away from home because she told her mother to stop drinking because it puts the lives of family members at risk.
Christine Aciferu from Katrini sub-county, Arua District has compiled early warning incidences due to election-related violence and cases of aspiring candidates abusing incumbents were common in her sub-county.
Through attending candidate’s consultative meetings, Christine has continuously shared the message for peaceful elections with the electorates i.e. ‘’I am using the knowledge that I acquired to sensitize people on peaceful electoral processes, that we need a peaceful election and people should not allow being bribed and should avoid excitement but make informed choices of the leaders to elect “She attributes this to the knowledge that she acquired during the training.
Christine also participated in voter’s register display exercise and mobilized communities to check on their names in the voter’s register and removal of the dead and those who transferred to other places from the registers. Due to the knowledge and skills acquired Christine is now a member of the tribunal committee in a sub-county.
Women’s International Peace Centre organized a series of webinars with Women Human Rights Defenders and young women leaders from South Sudan on promoting self-care and healing through rituals. The objective of the webinar was to help women to reconnect with each other and learn how to take care of themselves before they take care of others, especially for those that engage in defending human rights and advocating for young women’s representation and participation in peace processes in South Sudan.
The webinar also shared tips which encompassed both personal and organisational healing practices with the aim of supporting women human rights defenders and the women they support so that they can apprehend wholeness, be whole, and create wholeness.
The webinars were cohosted by Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) and Crown the Woman both based in Juba, South Sudan and Women Human Rights Defenders Network-Uganda. The sessions included Self-care and healing tips like;
How do you start your day in such a way that you are rooted, grounded, disciplined and motivated? How do you ensure that the children and other household members know that you are working and respect that? How do you keep to the working routines? Without grounding, we are unstable; we lose our centre and spend our days day-dreaming when in actual fact we are supposed to be working. Through grounding, we gain nourishment, power, stability, and growth. When we are grounded we enjoy our work, even if we are working at home and on our own. We can embrace stillness, solidity, inner security and clarity. We can also ground out stresses of everyday life and increase our vitality. We are rooted and that which has roots will endure.
Being part of a strong and dependable community strengthens one’s individuality by supporting the expression of enjoyment of one’s unique gifts and talents. An authentic community wants to see all its members flourish and function at optimum potential. Create a community within the workspace that follows rituals. It gives a sense of belonging. Sense of belonging is a form of security, a safety net.
Art is a universal language and what better medicine for global pandemic than a global language? There is no eART without art. Art may involve painting, designing, music, poetry, and dancing.
The increased burden of tasks, often undertaken with reduced access to food, medicines and recreational facilities, can be physically, emotionally and psychologically draining. If individuals are to keep up energy during this difficult time, it is the fire that will liberate you from fixed patterns and create new behaviour.
The nourishment and support of the nature grants us the feeling of belonging that allows us to expand and grow. Our well-being depends on this feeling of belonging; walking barefoot, the fresh smell from the trees, the scenery can be helpful in handling stress and workload.
Other tips include • Physical exercise to keep body and mind active. • It is important that we communicate and effectively. Try to listen and learn to say no when need be. Often times we are afraid to reject additional work for fear of being looked as negligent or unserious with work.
“This is all about sisterhood and valuing our wellbeing. this session is to give us tips on how to ground, love and center ourselves as Women Human Rights Defenders who can transform communities but starting with ourselves.” Juliet Were, Deputy Executive Director at The Peace Centre explained why we do this work.
The Executive Director of Crown the Women, Riya Yudaya expressed her joy in having the conversation on self-care and healing and emphasized the importance of its inclusion at both personal and organisational level.
Jackline Nasiwa, Executive Director, CIGPJ also appreciated the presence of the South Sudanese participants in the space. ‘Sisterhood and inclusion in this session of selfcare is critical at this time when we are prone to burn out” She said.
Following violent conflict between South Sudanese Nuer and Dinka youth, including kidnapping, maiming, death and interruption of government’s distribution of learning materials, The Peace Centre hosted a mediation session on 22nd May, including the Adjumani Women Mediators Network in partnership with UNHCR, Office of the Prime Minister and Adjumani District Local Government. 72 leaders (55 men and 17 women) discussed the conflict situation, identified the triggers and agreed to report conflict indicators to duty bearers before they turn into violence. Both Nuer and Dinka leaders (except for one) were remorseful, pledged to actively prevent violent conflict and to engage the youth to stop fighting. The leaders have since held dialogues with the youth as agreed during the mediation and district leadership reported improved relationship among the leaders of the different South Sudanese refugee communities.
The June 2019 National Transitional Justice Policy provides a framework to guide formal and informal justice processes that address the justice, accountability and reconciliation needs in post-conflict situations with the aim of promoting national reconciliation, peace and justice. Through a 6-month radio campaign, the Peace Centre and partners ICTJ-Uganda, AYINET, RLP, FIDA-Uganda have partnered with TracFM to collect real-time data from citizens using polls on the themes of the Transitional Justice Policy. Through radio talk shows, citizens discussed their conflict experiences, the lingering impact of human rights violations, efforts of different actors and appropriate measures for recovery, reconciliation and redress for victims and war-affected communities moving forward. This was structured to align with the strategic priorities and key cross cutting issues in the policy.
As part of the ongoing campaign, on the 27th of May, 2020, Women’s International Peace Centre working with the ICT J-Uganda and Track FM organized a tweet chat to examine the impact of COVID-19 outbreak, response and containment measures on Transitional Justice efforts as well as how it affects the lives of victims and survivors primarily in Northern Uganda.
The tweetchat was moderated by Rosebell Kagumire, @RosebellK, a Pan African Feminist, and Editor AfricanFeminism.com, a platform that documents narratives and experiences of African women on the continent and in the diaspora.
With a panel of Transitional Justice experts including Teddy Apunyo, a Researcher with more than 15 years’ experience working as a practitioner in humanitarian emergencies and post conflict settings. Bako Patricia, a Lawyer by training who is enthusiastic about criminal justice with an international and national perspective, human rights and international Law. Sarah Kihika Kasande Head of Office -Uganda, International Center for Transitional Justice and an Advocate of Courts of Judicature in Uganda. Nicholas Opiyo a Human Rights Lawyer and the Executive Director of Chapter Four a civil rights organization that provides research, advocacy and outreach services to influence laws, policies and practices in the interest of civil liberties and human rights. And Juliet Were, Deputy Executive Director, The Peace Centre, a Feminist Researcher who has conceptualized and coordinated studies on Governance, Peace and Security; Women’s Health issues in DRC, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Nepal.
The tweet chat created awareness about the campaign, shared different views and involved more people in the discussion about Transitional Justice. More than 7,000 social media users were able to interact with the hashtag. Incase you missed this timely discussion you can look it up under #TransitionalJusticeUg
Global Fund for Women and the Women’s International Peace Centre convened women human rights activists and organizations from Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda working to build peace, end sexual and gender-based violence, and combat the negative impact of the extractive industry on peace and women’s rights.
In the space, we assessed the progress and gaps in the women, peace, and security agenda in the region and defined a creative common vision and agenda for feminist peacebuilding.
This report highlights the discussions during the Regional Convening on Women’s Leadership in Peacebuilding in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
KUNO in cooperation with partners, introduced the KUNO Covid Café. In a bid to discuss Covid-19 crisis and the challenge it is posing to the world in unprecedented ways and how it is influencing our daily lives. The conversation looked at the consequences of the Covid-crisis in the Global South. The speakers in the first episode were:
Helen Kezie-Nwoha, Executive Director of Women’s International Peace Centre, who gave a feminist perspective on the COVID-19 crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, MSF Amsterdam, gave a view on the impact of COVID-19 on MSF operations in the Mediterranean Sea and in the detention centers for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Libya. Samah Hadid, Oxfam Yemen, discussed the pre-existing humanitarian situation and the COVID-19 crisis in Yemen.
Women’s International Peace Centre joined members of the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) Network to draft a statement issued on 15th May 2020 in Addis Ababa to the African Union Commission and AU member states, on the national level and regional responses to COVID-19, the need to mitigate increasing consequences on women and girls and prevent amplification of existing vulnerabilities. The Peace Centre included the case of women in conflict and conflict-affected settings and called for prioritization of targeted measures and resources to ensure the participation of refugee and internally displaced women and girls in COVID-19 decision-making structures and post-COVID-19 recovery and resilience programming that includes access to justice following the increased levels of sexual violence.
The Peace Centre was excited to join the meeting on 12th May to share work done to ensure gender responsive COVID response and adopt a regional framework for mainstreaming gender in COVID response in Africa. The meeting brought together 195 participants including the African Union Chairperson, the UN Women Executive Director, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Africa Center for Disease Control, and the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security leaders of the African Union, Gender Ministers, UN Women Country Offices and Women’s Rights Organizations across the continent to. Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) network shared women’s rights organizations response strategies to COVID-19 and The Peace Centre presented lessons from work with refugee women incorporating COVID-19 prevention into their early warning and peace building activities. Read More “African Union Gender Ministers’ Meeting on Mainstreaming Gender in COVID-19 Response in Africa”
On 29th April, The Peace Centre as a member of the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) Steering Committee took part in the virtual meeting of the STC on GEWE convened by the AU Women Gender and Development Directorate to define the African Union Guidelines on Gender-Responsive Responses to COVID-19. The webinar brought together 195 participants and leaders of the African Union, Gender Ministers, UN Women Country Offices and Women’s Rights Organizations in the Continent under the theme “COVID 19 Response and Recovery- a Gendered Framework”. The webinar was co-chaired by UN women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Chairperson of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Beatrice Lomeya Atilite.
The webinar focused on briefing Ministers in charge of Gender and Women Affairs on guidelines being defined by the African Union to ensure national responses to the pandemic are gender-responsive as well as to discuss support required by the Ministers to enhance on-going national responses. The presentation by GIMAC focused on highlighting the responses of women and women’s rights organisations in addition to sharing recommendations including the importance of centering women’s leadership, of gender-responsive resourcing, addressing the crisis of gender-based violence and the need for attention to conflict-affected contexts among others.
“Like any epidemic, COVID-19 accentuates the inequalities and discrimination of vulnerable groups. The confinement and the social distancing can transform the haven of peace, which must be the home, into a place at high risk of violation of human rights and particularly the rights of women. We must, therefore, together ensure that this situation does not become the breeding ground for the propensity of violence against women. The fight against impunity, respect for dignity, equality and solidarity must be the cardinal values in the gender approach against Covid19.”- Beatrice Lomeya Atilite
The Gender Ministers’ also had an opportunity to share how their countries are responding, sharing some of the strategies as;
Having a gender analysis of COVID-19 impact to inform response,
Ensuring COVID-19 data is disaggregated by gender.
Increasing awareness of the population on COVID-19, ensure the message is in different languages.
Working with the private and public sector to raise awareness and plan response.
Paying attention to existing health issues in the population – malaria, infant mortality, and maternal mortality and HIV infection. Among others
A representative of GIMAC during the meeting presented CSOs response strategies to COVID-19. The meeting aimed to share work done, to discuss key lessons learned and good practices in ensuring gender-responsive COVID response and adopt a regional framework for mainstreaming gender in COVID response in Africa. This came to a close with the Gender Ministers adopting a gender transformative framework for response to COVID-19 in Africa to address the various difficulties facing women and girls in Africa in relation to the pandemic.
Helen Kezie-Nwoha and Angeline Nkwenkam Nguedjeu
Our culture in Africa shapes our identity. We proudly refer to ourselves as Africans. This sense of pride emanates from our very rich cultural and social norms. All over the world people have cultures that they cherish and inform their beliefs, norms and social practices.
“The work of educating the world to peace is the woman’s job, because men have a natural fear of being classed as cowards if they oppose war.” Jeanette Rankin once said. Although women have the power and ability to just as actively contribute and fuel conflicts, more often than not, they are championing for peace.
This past decade we have heard more examples of this, for example; It was women who brought an end to the 14-year war in Liberia, organizing daily sit-ins, staging vigils, and taking to the streets until negotiators agreed to sign a deal. In Afghanistan, the courageous People’s Peace Movement was first sparked by women in Helmand province. A picture of 22 year old Alaa Sallah in the middle of the Sudan revolution went viral and inspired many. “The future is female” “Lady Liberty of Sudan” is an example of some of the reactions that were filled on social media screens. Women have always been key players in the fight for peace although their efforts have gone unrecognized. In this article, I will attempt to explain peace building, UN 1325 and just how important it is to actively adopt it.Read More “Women in Peace building”
The Peace Centre convened a parallel event at the Virtual 65th Commission on the Status of Women on Monday, 15th March at 3:00 pm EAT. This year, the aim was to hear and reflect on the perspectives of diverse women peace builders including young women, displaced women, women with disabilities, women in rural areas, women peace builders in the local/sub-national governments, religious institutions, the private sector, technology and academia. In an enlightening conversation with diverse women peace builders, we defined the concrete actions necessary for us to see the transformative change associated with our vision of feminist peace over the next 25 years.
The work of The Peace Centre is founded on the progressive principles of feminism acknowledging that the feminist movement has been in existence for long.
The Peace Centre subscribes and its work is guided by the Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists which ring true to the work of amplifying women voices, and the belief that anyone labelled as a second-class citizen must be protected without labelling.
Pikyiko Eunice Jacob is one of the young women who have gone through the Peace Centre’s leadership training. She is a South Sudanese young woman leader currently working with Crown The Woman- South Sudan as a project officer. Crown the woman- South Sudan is a women-founded and women-led nonprofit. It is a non-governmental, non-political, humanitarian and national grassroots organization that aims at empowering girls and women to ensure they harness their potential and contribute to nation building economically, socially and politically.
Eunice describes herself as a hard worker and a good listener who is trying to do her work to the best of her abilities.
“I love to learn new things, because the world keeps changing and I’m inquisitive by nature, I tend to ask questions so I can learn.” she says.
Eunice’s first interaction with the centre was when she attended a workshop/ mentorship session in November of 2019 in South Sudan. She shared her passion for working on women issues and trying to find ways to empower them. “The Peace Center made me realize that this was an achievable goal and my capacity was built during the mentor-ship session.”
Her realization was further built on when a group of young South Sudanese women were chosen as representatives visiting Uganda to learn and share experiences with The Peace Centre. Here Eunice was taken through practical ways in which she could become a better leader and was also able to draw up a vision board for her next 5 years. “I relate to The Peace Centre because they are empowering young women, helping them realize their passions and figure out how to achieve them. “
Eunice remarks that her journey with Women International Peace Center has been the best journey so far of her life so far. It’s not only been engaging but has also been very empowering. It helped her build her capacity, especially as a public speaker. Although she admits that she’s not exactly where she is and she is always working towards the one hundred per cent stance. She’s sure that with the continuous support of The Peace Centre she will be able to convey information with the confidence she previously lacked.
“Before working with The Peace Centre I was just a young woman that had a lot of dreams and aspirations but didn’t know how to put my point across. My dreams were big with no way of execution, However, with the centre’s help I was able to identify the different ways I can make a change in my community, how to present myself and it has broadened my thinking capacity, and how to adapt in my community.”
Her experience at the peace centre helped her realize that “you don’t have to wait to graduate to become a leader or have a leadership role”, “being a leader is not about your age, experience or qualifications. It is a calling.
When asked about her stance on feminism she replies, “I was not a strong feminist before but with the various conversations and books I have read about feminism, I have realized that we women should fight for our rights in the community be it small or big, to have equal opportunities. I have also learnt that I can’t effectively do my work if I’m not looking after myself or exercising wellness.
This report highlights the discussions during the 3-day learning Exchange visit held from 9th to 13th February for a more immersive learning experience with women leaders and women’s rights organizations within Uganda’s women’s movement.
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 .
Doreen Musaazi is currently working with the Peace Centre as a Project Officer. She holds a Bachelors Degree of Arts in Social Sciences from Makerere University and she is known for her excellent time-keeping skills and the fact that she always has a smile for everyone. Her hobbies include listening to music and reading newspapers, magazines or any other books.
How long have you been with The Peace Centre?
It’s been two months since I joined The Peace Centre. The field of women peace and security especially women in leadership however is not new to me, as I have previously worked with Women’s Democracy Network- Uganda Chapter.
What is feminist peace to you?
To me, feminist peace means having a gender perspective in all spheres, as well as the equal participation of women and men at all levels and in all processes, in the context of security and peace policies. It requires challenging the status quo by addressing the root causes of violence with a feminist lens as well as questioning systems and practices that deepen traditional gendered roles facilitating conflict and militarized security.
What is one thing you are learning now, and why is it important?
Transitional Justice which is described as the mechanisms and processes adopted in the aftermath of armed conflict or following authoritarian regimes. Before embarking on this campaign project on Transitional Justice, I did not know about transitional justice. The project has really enlightened me more about the deep effects of conflict and the need for sustainable peace in our society.
Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
Perry Aritua who happens to be someone I was privileged to have previously worked with. She is a very intelligent hardworking lady who inspires others to continue to grow as they learn. I learnt a lot from her work ethic that helped me view work differently.
What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
My passion for improvement and learning new things. I believe there’s nothing one can’t learn and the more you learn, the more you can improve yourself, your workspace and in many ways your community. I am also open to learning and I love to do new things. I acknowledged that you cannot grow without change and I’m enthusiastic in embracing it.
Any lessons for a junior colleague
Always be open to learning new things.
What motivates you most?
The desire to grow my career motivates me to work harder and never give up.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work especially personally?
I want to improve my networking abilities and gain new skills related to my profession.
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.
We, women refugees living in Uganda participated in the conference under the theme “The South Sudan Peace Process: The Role and Prospects of Refugee Women” in Adjumani, Uganda from 25 to 26 February 2020, acknowledged our common vision for sustainable peace in South Sudan and promoting peace in the communities where we live in Uganda;
Government of Uganda for their generosity of receiving us and enabling us to
live in Uganda with dignity under their protection;
APPRECIATE the Office of
the Prime Minister for Uganda, UNHCR and UN Women for their support over the
years and providing us with access to education and health that has improved
our well-being and livelihood;
FURTHER APPRECIATE the
Government of Uganda for putting in place affirmative action for leadership in
the settlements that has enabled 50-50 representation of women and men in decision
making; that has enabled us to ensure the needs and concerns of women are taken
into account in the management of the settlement;
ACKNOWLEDGE the contribution of other partners whose support has helped address most of our needs, including the Refugee Law Project, Care International and the Women’s International Peace Centre;
REALISING that the Government of
South Sudan is in the last stages of forming the Transitional Government of
by the fact that urgent steps need to be taken to ensure that sustainable peace
is achieved in South Sudan with the full participation of women and girls, particularly
as it relates to the protection of women and girls from all forms of violence.
We urge the Government of South Sudan and signatories
to the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan:
To ensure complete ceasefire is maintained and non-signatories are brought on board to participate in the peace implementation by silencing the guns.
We demand for a functional Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation Commission to ensure arms are removed from communities.
We call upon H.E President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Macher to visit us in the camps and assure us of no return to war. We are tired of being refugees and want to return home to participate in building our nation.
To ensure the complete implementation of the Revitalized Agreement and ALL its provision including monitoring and reporting; as well as respect the provision of 35% representation of women in decision making by nominating women in decision making positions at all levels. There is no sustainable without the full participation of women at all levels.
Recognize the capacity that resides with women refugees living in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt and find ways to ensure their inclusion in decision making to achieve sustainable peace;
Develop and implement the safe and dignified return of refugees, by developing and reinforcing policies that guarantee the safety of all citizens, protect our borders and civilian populations especially IDPs and safeguard their human rights, including the right to safety, education, health, food security, economic development, and ensure lands that have been taken away are returned to rightful owners.
Urge IGAD to continue to monitor the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement to ensure none of the parties violates ALL provisions; and if they do sanctions should apply.
Also we urge the international community to monitor and support the peace process in South Sudan and ensure accountability for violation of human rights.
We call on the Government of Uganda to continue to provide safe zones for refugee populations, develop and strengthen policies to provide holistic interventions that target women, girls and vulnerable groups including reintegration and economic empowerment for refugees.
Dated at Adjumani,
this 26th day of February 2020.
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.
Women’s participation in decision-making in peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery processes in Uganda is markedly low, particularly at the local level. The Baseline assessment conducted in 2019 showed that women are not often involved in planning for conflicts, raids but find themselves suffering most in the conflict situations yet are still not involved in the key decision-making platforms for resolutions of these conflicts. Hence Women, Peace and Security issues are left out.Read More “Women Peace Committee Meetings; Adjumani, Yumbe and Kotido Districts.”
As we continue working towards improving women’s engagement and influence on electoral processes with the support of the 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, 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 Self-Love Camp is part of the Women’s International Peace Centre’s strategic positioning that prioritizes intentional well-being as one of the areas of engagement that builds sustainable feminist leadership and movements. The Peace Centre believes that there is need for deliberate and intentional investment in self-care and wellness of feminist leaders through specific tailor-made initiatives (such as this camp) and mainstreaming wellness throughout all programmes and interventions. As the new year and new decade begins, we believe it’s time to set new year and new decade goals for feminist leaders and organisations which, also must include wellness goals.
We are a collective of Women Leaders in Uganda; the Stewards of our organisations, collectives and movements – we are Executive Directors, Board Members and Senior Management Team Members. We are here as equals, challenging power and how it is exercised by us, for us and against us within our own spaces and organisations. We are here because we desire to deepen our appreciation, practice of transformative feminist leadership and wellness. We are here because we acknowledge that we are vulnerable and there is power in that. We are here because we believe that we cannot give from an empty cup. We are here because we choose to politicize our individual and collective wellness as an act of transformational feminist leadership. We are here because we decided that our wellness is just as important as our work.
We LOVE ourselves as leaders and prioritized two days to sit back and reflect on feminist leadership and wellbeing. We, the 21 women that participated in the Feminist Leadership and Self-Love Camp are the self-care conspirators that have dared to walk this journey… and we all ask; how did we get here?
What a powerful Feminist Leadership and Self-Love Camp this was! These precious 48 hours were animated with:
We shared our stories of being unwell (physically, mentally, emotionally financially and spiritually), decoded what make us unwell, experiences of how being unwell impacts on transformational leadership. We also shared the contemporary ways that are being employed to enable us to thrive and cope as well as recalled our invaluable cultural ways in which wellbeing was practised in the past/present.
Acknowledging that lack of rest for us as women, the pressure to beat donor deadlines and manage organisations, long working hours and digital-related stress are some of the ways that make us unwell, we took some time to undertake practical ways of sleep therapy. Massage therapy accompanied this, and it worked – we left feeling revived.
Art and Writing Therapy
We delved into our creative and crazy selves – drew, painted, wrote our hearts out, journaled and offloaded. We are lighter!
As a way to deepen our appreciation of each other, our personal politics and who we are; we blind-dated each other and got to know someone better at a ‘Masquerade Blind-Date Dinner’.
Closing Ritual; Celebrating Love
A closing ritual was jointly undertaken where each woman leader was given a rose in acknowledgement of their resilience (just as the thorns on the roses) as well as their vulnerability (as feeble as the petals of the roses). The roses were also in celebration of women leader’s commitment to love themselves and other women. And in celebration of feminist and sisterly love.
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”
As a feminist organization that is committed to the intentional integration of wellness into the ways and practices of organizing for transformational leadership, we developed a training model, “Harnessing Our Power with Soul: Bespoke curriculum for Transformational Leadership and Wellness” with the support of Womankind Worldwide through the “Women’s Advocacy for Voice and Empowerment through inclusive platforms in Uganda” project.
The Bespoke Curriculum contains some practical activities in an attempt to meet the needs of diverse groups at different stages of organizational growth and their varied approaches to learning and ways of sharing knowledge. This allows activists to visualize the experiences of others doing similar work to their own and to see themselves in these experiences.
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.
February was an exciting month that kicked off with the launch of the research report on the Implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan from a gender perspective. This research launch came on the occasion of the new political dispensation in South Sudan with the impending formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) in February.
This Research Study examined the opportunities, constraints, and extent to which women influence the peace process in South Sudan; and how women and young women’s advocacy efforts can be supported in ways that create new spaces for them to engage key decision-makers at national, regional and international levels. Methods of data collection included in-depth interviews with key informants, document review as well as a validation workshop with key stakeholders in Juba, South Sudan in December 2019 and January 2020.
The report also captures the following thematic areas of the Revitalized Peace Agreement; Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU), Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements, Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction, Resource, Economic and Financial Management, Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing, and Parameters and Review of Permanent Constitution.
Participants during the launch acknowledged The Peace Centre for good work done to ensure a gender perspective is taken into context in the implementation of the TGONU. Several limitations were identified as challenges facing women in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan. As a means of communicating strategies to support advocacy by women organizations, several recommendations were proposed.
The African Union Commission Heads of States Assembly has marked the year 2020 with the theme “Silencing the Gun: creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development”. In line with this theme, Agenda 2063 stresses the imperative of ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence and violent conflicts and prevention of genocide in its ten-year implementation plan. Speaking to this endeavor, the 33rdAU Summit aims to take stock of achievements and challenges encountered in implementing the AU’s Flagship project ‘Silencing the Gun by 2020’ and devise a more robust action plan informed by the Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism of the road map for a peaceful and prosperous Africa.
Women’s International Peace Centre, as a member of the GIMAC steering committee, co-organised the 35th GIMAC meeting held from 3rd to 4th February 2020 in Addis Ababa, under the theme “Recognizing and Amplifying Women and Girls’ Agency to Silence the Guns in Africa”.
“The role of young women in silencing the guns is to make decisions, raise awareness on the peace processes because we suffer longer from the impact of conflict”- Racheal Juan, Project Assistant, South Sudan.
The Peace Centre’s alumni and partners including a young woman from South Sudan’s informal Young Women Leading for Peace network and from DRC’s Karibu Jeunesse Nouvelle who as panellists made statements and concrete recommendations for the AUC Silencing the Guns roadmap. They called on Member States and the AU to ensure the meaningful inclusion of women, including young women, grassroots women and women war survivors, in nation-building, the design and implementation of peace agreements, responses to violent conflict, and post-conflict governance.
Their recommendations were included in the final 35 GIMAC outcome document as follows; “We urge the African Union Heads of State and Governments to: To adopt and adequately finance UNSCR 1325 national and regional action plans and endorse the Continental Result Framework developed by the AU Office of the Special Envoy on WPS towards effective implementation, monitoring, evaluation & reporting of the WPS Agenda as well as the involvement of women and youth in nurturing a culture of peace, tolerance and constructive resolution of disputes”.
“We need to push member states to prioritize the protection of women and end all acts of SGBV against women”- Arek Malek Young Women Leading for Peace network, South Sudan
To ensure a fruitful campaign, The Peace Centre and TRAC FM organized a 3-day advocacy campaign planning meeting from 22nd to 24th January in Gulu District. 21 partner organizations represented Acholi, Lango, Teso, West Nile, and a national focus. These included ICTJ, AYINET, Refugee Law Project, Concerned Parents Association (CPA), Lira Women’s Peace Initiatives (WOPI-U), NECPA, Teso Women’s Peace Activists (TEWPA), Uganda Victims Foundations (UVF), Foundation for Justice and Development Initiatives (FJDI), LDML, Ombaci Massacre Victims Association, People’s Voice for Peace (PVP).
During the meeting, we identified and agreed on the focus areas for the campaign including goals and objectives, identified existing and new advocacy issues and opportunities related to transitional justice in northern Uganda mapped out stakeholders that are relevant to the conversation on transitional justice and strategize on a memorization act for northern Uganda.
He noted that the missed opportunity was the documentation of the atrocities that the Transitional Justice policy is trying to address. The language used in the Transitional Justice policy also needs to be articulated as CSOs carry out advocacy campaigns in order not to victimize the survivors and victims.
Some of the issues raised after the presentation included; Popularisation of the policy among its beneficiaries and the citizens; there should be a strategy developed by all relevant stakeholders to popularise and publicize the policy. The policy does not address the issue of stateless children born during the wars and the issue of the atrocities has been narrowed down to northern issues yet victims think it should be handled as a national issue. The participants formed groups to discuss what issues (challenges/ problems) they are addressing in regard to Transitional Justice, solutions/ interventions that they and other stakeholders/ partners are using to address those challenges?
Sandra highlighted that the campaign will consist of community and radio dialogues and data will be collected during the dialogues to be used in advocacy to promote Transitional Justice at the regional and national levels. The community dialogues will be issue-specific conversations supported by data collected during the radio talk shows. The participants then had to identify the most ideal criteria/structure on where and how to engage citizens during the community dialogues.
Radio Advocacy Campaign Themes identified included; the Transitional Justice Policy, Access to Justice (Formal Justice system), Traditional Justice Mechanisms, Nation Building and Reconciliation, healing, Reparation, Amnesty and Memorialization.
What opportunities does radio present in the campaign?
During this session, participants discussed the role of the media in the campaign highlighting that the media should not cause friction within the public to enable the campaign to achieve its objectives but rather use radio as a mediator between the government and the victims of the atrocities. There have been different unfruitful interventions on Transitional Justice in the target communities of the campaign and victims are tired of dialogues. How is this campaign going to be different? What strategies have been laid to achieve results? Participants emphasized that the poll questions shouldn’t be pointing figures but facilitating more open dialogue and the campaign should educate victims that reparation does not necessarily mean compensation.
We, 212 representatives of women’s rights and civil society organizations in all our diversities, drawn from across the 5 sub-regions of Africa and the diaspora, gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 28th–30th October 2019 to review the progress of implementing the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA).
Recognizing, that 25 years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), some progress has been recorded towards realizing women’s rights in Africa. Notably, legal reforms to legislate and institutionalize women’s rights in different aspects, for example, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) adopted in 2003 and now ratified by 42 countries. In addition, gender equality protection and the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex is now entrenched in most national constitutions of AU Member States. There is also an increase in the enactment of laws targeted towards protecting women and girls such as labor laws and domestic violence acts, though enforcement of these laws remains a big challenge.
Concerned, that the legislative reforms in Africa has not altered relations of power between women and men. In most countries, the status of women and girls remains largely unequal, with men and boys at all levels of society (both the private and public spaces) continue to enjoy patriarchal privileges while women continue to carry the burden of servicing an unequal society.
Sadly, the manifestation of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination against women and girls in all their diversities has still persisted. Despite a number of women’s rights commitments signed by African governments, normalized negative social norms, cultural and religious practices supersede national laws, overtly or covertly.
Noting, the 25 years review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) is being conducted against the backdrop of an eroding pan-Africanism ideology; Africa’s high dependency on foreign aid to finance development projects; increasing illicit financial flows; extractivism; unprecedented poor land governance, rapid unplanned urbanization, propagation of xenophobia, misogyny and extremism under the guise of nationalism and protectionism; migration crisis; militarization; totalitarianism and centralization of political and economic powers in the ruling class; shrinking civic space, freedom of expression and association; weakening trade union; financialization of social services; armed and unarmed conflicts; increased levels and forms of violence against women, girls, children and minority groups, including technology-related violence and femicides; recurrent disasters and extreme weather and climate crisis.
Taken aback, with the realization that the review process of the Beijing+25 has in significant ways isolated women’s rights organizations at the national and regional level. Although, women’s rights organizations were ‘invited’ they were not an integral part of the review from planning to reporting, resulting in fewer countries developing alternative (shadow) national CSOs reports.
The new year kicks off with an exciting partnership between The Peace Centre and TRAC FM on a 6-month interactive radio campaign to engage citizens and leaders on transitional justice in the greater North of Uganda, including Acholi, Lango, Teso, Karamoja and West Nile.
This campaign follows the recent approval of the June 2019 National Transitional Justice Policy and focuses on a 10-year post-conflict period with the aim of facilitating public discussions and reflection on citizen’s experiences of the conflict, related responses and gaps that still remain in government and civil society efforts to address the impact of the conflict. The campaign also seeks to contribute to making citizens aware of existing government policies that provide the basis for individuals and groups to demand specific actions from local and national leaders.
During the 6 months period, we hope to engage citizens in a debate on the status of peace, conflict and transitional justice in the target areas of this campaign and evaluate the wins, challenges and (missed) opportunities of the 10-year post-conflict period, and also support citizens to hold their local and national leaders accountable for gaps in responses to their key post-conflict concerns. Advocate for implementation of transitional policies, especially for enduring victims. Work towards government recognition, a joint narrative and collective remembrance.
The 10 radio stations we shall partner with include; Radio Pacis (Arua) and Pakwach FM (Pakwach) in West Nile, Mega FM (Gulu) and Mighty Fire FM (Kitgum) in Acholi, Radio Wa (Lira) and Dokolo FM (Dokolo) in Lango, Delta FM (Soroti) and Continental FM (Kumi) in Teso, Akica FM (Moroto) and Voice of Karamoja (Kotido) in Karamoja.
About TRAC FM
FM is an NGO that enables citizens to take part in meaningful public debate on
public policy and governance. TRAC FM reaches out to even the most remote and
excluded citizens through the use of basic mobile phones, free SMS and
interactive FM radio talk-shows broadcast in local languages. Through this,
TRAC FM collects valuable real-time data from citizens throughout Uganda which
helps to identify socio-economic and political trends. The collected data
assists policymakers and practitioners on the ground to respond in more
flexible ways to emerging opportunities and risks.
Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. It is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth. Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to a high quality of living. Everything we do and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. Therefore, it is important to achieve optimal wellness in order to reduce stress, lower the risk of falling ill and ensure positive interactions. Wellness focuses on different dimensions that are occupational, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, physical, social, and intellectual wellness. All of these dimensions are interconnected.
Wellness helps to understand how to communicate with each other and work collaboratively. If employees or students are unhappy or unhealthy, this then again affects the organization’s or the institution’s growth and development. Transformative leadership goes hand-in-hand with wellness. Confronting violence and the survivors of that violence daily is traumatizing. Leaders and activists face injustice, hatred, repression, oppression, sexism, homophobia, violence and discrimination on a daily basis. This takes a toll on their personal life too. Our opponents are fully aware of the deeply personal nature of the work and thus attack where it hurts most, in very personal ways. Hence, for us to fully engage, we need activist energy and passion.
For this reason, the Women’s International Peace Centre conducted a training on transformation leadership and wellness for student leaders on the 19th and 20th November, using its model in engaging with self-care. The model allows participants to understand the gendered demands and expectations on women’s emotional and physical labour, their history with violence and discrimination and how this impacts their leadership development process. Ultimately, the model also allows women to look inwards and proposes interventions for thriving at the personal level, before looking outwards to influence their communities as well-grounded and emotionally intelligent leaders.
The training aimed to educate the student leadership on how to create a supportive work or learning environment, improve productivity and health behaviour, reduce elevated health risks and to promote sustainable growth as well as meeting our social, emotional and physical wellbeing. The student leadership was in the focus of this training because being a leader and student comes with a lot of responsibility. The training aimed to assist leaders in understanding the needs of their bodies, why it is important to free-up small pockets of time for self-care and well-being, work–life balance, physical and emotional safety.
South Sudan assented to the UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2250 highlighting the important role of young women in promoting peace and security. The 2015-2020 National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and Related Resolutions also represents this commitment to i) increase women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, the maintenance of peace and security, and guaranteeing their participation in post-conflict peacebuilding, ii) enable peace and security stakeholders in South Sudan to galvanise their efforts and ensure improved implementation of gender-sensitive peace and security-focused initiatives at national and state levels and iii) ensuring the inclusion of women and girls’ needs in the national budgetary priorities of the transitional assistance plans developed by the Government and all programmes funded by development partners, including in the negotiations of the New Compact Deal. The government of South Sudan, through the national steering committee as well as inter-ministerial committee charged with monitoring implementation progress, has invited diverse stakeholders to contribute to the implementation of the plan or to strengthening the local capacities for the implementation.
Despite the existence of these commitments, frameworks and mechanisms, there are insufficient attempts to promote young women’s participation in peace processes, to amplify their voices or to influence in favour of their specific priorities. Since the outbreak of armed conflict in December 2013, the resurgence in July 2016 and with on-going efforts to resolve conflicts and to reconstruct, young women’s critical role in formal peacebuilding and conflict resolution has been under-explored despite their informal contributions. The Women’s International Peace Centre 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. In the framework of this partnership, the WIPC brought together 20 young women aged 18 to 35 from political parties and civil society organisations for a 5-day training. The focus of the training was to equip young women in South Sudan for information gathering, data verification and gendered analysis of conflict trends, dynamics and their significance for on-going peace processes. The training also built their understanding of relevant national, regional and international policy frameworks, of on-going national peace processes, national and regional mechanisms as well as key women, peace and security thematic areas. This workshop aimed at building capacity for advocacy and collective action while enabling the creation of new spaces for them to engage key decision-makers at the national level. Additionally, it provided a space for intergenerational dialogue with older women peacebuilders and leaders for cross-learning and potential mentorship.
Forty women leaders from
Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda gathered in Kampala over the past 3 days to
discuss important issues of peace and security in the Great Lakes region. We
reflected on the realities of the region, which continues to be faced with
intractable conflicts and on the situations in our countries. Our primary focus
is on the roles of women in building peace and in reconstruction; on addressing
sexual violence, during and after conflict; as well as the impact of the mining
and extractive industry on women and girls’ rights and lasting peace in the
Great Lakes region
In the conflict-affected countries
of the region, we note that there are strong national and regional laws, policy
instruments and government structures to address sexual violence in conflict
and post-conflict situations, including the Kampala Declaration of the
International Conference of the Great Lakes region on Sexual and Gender-Based
Violence. However these laws are not being fully implemented and we continue to
witness alarming rates of sexual violence ranging from rape to sex trafficking
to domestic violence, with great impunity for those who commit these crimes and
little support or justice for survivors.
As a result, efforts to prevent sexual violence are inadequate and we find that those who provide services to survivors of sexual violence such as the police, judicial and health workers are ill equipped to provide the required support and end impunity.
In certain contexts such as within refugee settlements, police stations often lack family and child protection units and structural factors increase women and girls risk of sexual violence such as the lack of light at water-fetching points and communal latrines. Initiatives that address the challenges of SGBV such as recovery centres or one-stop shelters are underfunded and unable to address survivors’ material needs such as clothes or sanitary pads. Women interested in cross-border business face additional huddles due to a lack of clear trade policies, limited access to information on taxation or direct support to women’s entrepreneurship efforts. Overall, there is limited support for survivors of sexual violence to reintegrate into the community, receive psychosocial support and earn a sustainable living.
We therefore call on
governments to prioritise funding and implementation of progressive national
policies on sexual and gender-based violence. We also stress the importance of a
holistic 360 degree approach to supporting survivors of sexual violence that
address their wellbeing mentally, economically, physically and in accessing
It is widely acknowledged that women’s leadership is central to building peace in the home, in the community and within the larger society. Women have taken part in local and national peace processes in Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda to ensure an inclusive and sustainable peace. Governments of the region have also acknowledged women’s critical role in peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery through national, regional and international laws and policies on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. However, progress in ensuring women’s critical role in peace processes and security governance is slow. This is often constrained further by women’s exclusion from spaces and processes that are viewed as the preserve of men such as national peace talks or mediation processes. This is made even worse by limited support for local women’s groups and women-led organisations that are important in humanitarian settings as women are often the first responders in times of emergency.
We therefore call on governments and development partners to include women leaders in key decision-making processes, increase support for women’s roles in peace and security as well as directly support the work of local women’s groups in conflict and crisis-affected settings.
With the expansion of the mining and extractive industry in the region and the increasing acquisition of land for the same, the rights of women and girls as well as lasting peace, are at risk. There are growing reports of compulsory land acquisition by governments with minimal say of its occupants and women tend to have no say at all. The compensation is often inadequate and not equivalent to the value of the assets on land. This also focuses on ownership of land under customary tenure where men have custody and ignores women’s land user rights despite their critical roles in agriculture, feeding households and earning their livelihoods off the land.
We call on governments to
ensure free prior informed consent whenever acquiring land for the mining
industry or agribusinesses so communities including women are fully engaged and
involved in decision-making on these matters. Governments should ensure that in
addition to companies conducting environmental impact assessments they assess
the social impact of companies’ acquisition of land and what it means for
women’s access to livelihoods, water and other resources as well as the impact
on sustained peace.
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
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.
On the 26th to 27th September, Women’s International Peace Centre, in partnership with Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) and Eve Organization for Women Development convened a two days Think Tank under the theme; “Reclaiming our Space; Women influencing Multiparty Democracy” for Women in Political leadership to reflect on strategies of enhancing the influence and strategic participation of women in multi-party political dispensation and national development. The Think Tank brought together 15 women politicians from 5 political parties, Ministry of Gender, and CSOs.
In August 2015, following almost 2years of on-and-off peace negotiations mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), parties to the conflict and other stakeholders signed the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The agreement provided for the formation of a Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and for national elections after two and a half years. It also envisaged broad security sector reform, transitional justice, and a constitutional development process. In December 2017, the High Level Revitalisation Forum commenced resulting in the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) in December 2017, the Declaration of Principles in February 2018, the Khartoum Declaration Agreement (KDA) in June 2018 and the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) on the 12 September in Khartoum, Sudan. In all these processes, women played key roles as mobilisers, advocates, mediators and negotiators. Organized under the auspices of the South Sudan Women’s Coalition, women pushed for inclusivity and secured space for the technical team to access the negotiation venues in Addis Ababa and Khartoum. They also influenced the peace agreement to Include a provision to have at least 35% affirmative action /women representation in all committees and for the implementation of the agreement and at all levels of decision making.
Our Key objective was to strengthen debate on women’s participation and influence in post conflict governance and decision making in South Sudan and specifically providing a space for critical dialogue and analysis on women’s engagement and influence in politics and national development for meaningful gender equality and equity and also develop a strategic agenda to strengthen capacity of women in decision making.
Protecting women’s space in politics is especially important in the conflict resolution area. Despite women’s longstanding role in informal dispute resolution, their near absence from peace talks and similar international security processes & mechanisms requires particular attention.
Since the introduction of multi-party
politics in 1988, Uganda has not experienced peaceful, violent free democratic
electoral processes. Uganda’s elections continue to be
characterised by violence, ballot stuffing, altering of results and in the end
a myriad of election petitions. The political
environment in the build-up to, during and after elections has become increasingly
charged with a number of reports of harassment, intimidation, acts of
corruption, human rights abuses perpetrated by different political nemesis over
the years. While the government has enacted laws on guiding the electoral processes
such as the Presidential Elections Act and the Parliamentary Elections Act,
2005 gaps were identified by the Supreme Court in its ruling on petitions made
it to court in 2006 and 2016 with the greatest challenge in the conduction of
democratic elections being the conflicts that emerge before, during and especially after elections.
With funding from
Democracy Governance Facility (DGF), The Centre is implementing a project ‘Promoting
Women’s Effective Participation in Peaceful Electoral Processes in Uganda’aimed at improving women’s
engagement and influence on electoral processes. In its initial stages, the project will focus on broader interventions
covering pre-election, election and post-election processes and shall be
implemented in the districts of Arua,
Kapelebyong and Kassanda respectively. The project builds on the success
of The Centres’ implementation of the Women’s Situation Room composed of the
youth peer-to-peer peace process and women advocates for peace programmes
implemented in the build-up to, during and in the after-math of Uganda’s 2016
general elections. In addition, the project also contributes to DGF’s higher-level outcome
proportion of population satisfied with the way democracy works in Uganda and
DGF higher-level indicator ‘proportion of population who believe decision
making is inclusive and responsive’.
Women’s full and equal participation in political and electoral processes can be considered as one of the litmus tests for women’s empowerment and gender equality. When women participate in elections – as voters, candidates, electoral administrators, or party supporters – they can express their own needs and interests. Decisions reflect the electorate better; political processes are more inclusive and democracy is strengthened. However, despite some progress, globally women remain under-represented in all aspects of political life. Our project Promoting Women’s Effective Participation in Peaceful Electoral Processes in Uganda aims to strengthen women’s engagement and influence on electoral processes. National and local elections can support women’s political participation in multiple ways, but specific measures may be required to overcome gender-based discrimination. For instance, women candidates may face a lack of capacities or resources that prevents them from competing effectively. If polling stations are located in remote or unsafe areas, women voters may be reluctant to use them. Sometimes electoral management bodies are unaware of hindrances to women’s participation because they do not have the knowledge, skills or data to analyse and correct these. To ensure women’s and men’s equal participation in governance processes and the decisions that affect their lives is vital for achieving inclusive and effective governance.Read More “Women’s Effective Participation in Peaceful Electoral Processes in Uganda Project Inception.”
Through this 50th edition of Women’s World, we contribute to the body of feminist knowledge on the experiences and agency of women affected by forced displacement as a result of conflict, political turmoil or insecurity in Africa. This focus aligns with the African Union’s theme for the year 2019, as the Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa: Towards a Durable Solution to Forced Displacement.Read More “Women and Girls at the Heart of Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”
The Open Letter to the Group of Friends of 1325 calls on governments to accelerate commitments on Women, Peace and Security as part of their work on sustainable development, including on gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies.
As we embark on a transformational journey in our new Strategic Plan 2019-2022, The Centre seeks to ensure that women not only powerfully contribute to peace building processes and results, but also transform these spaces to be more gender inclusive and gender responsive.
45 years into our journey of amplifying women’s voice and power, we are pleased to share that Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) is NOW to Women’s International Peace Centre (The Centre).
Isis-WICCE –named after the Egyptian goddess of wisdom and justice- started out in 1974 as a global women’s resource centre documenting and disseminating women’s ideas, concerns and experiences with the aim of ending gender inequality. This organically resulted into physical cross-cultural exchanges, bringing together women human rights defenders from diverse countries to discuss topical gender equality issues, share experiences and strategies to dismantle patriarchy and advance women’s empowerment across the globe.
With the move to Uganda in 1994, the organisation carved out its niche with a focus on women, peace and security. The international cross-cultural exchange morphed into the feminist leadership institute on peace building and human security; the resource centre focused on conducting research and generating feminist knowledge on women’s experiences and specific needs in conflict and post-conflict which also formed the evidence base for women’s advocacy for peace and gender-responsive post-conflict recovery in 27 countries.
Isis-WICCE also focused on healing women war survivors – addressing their psychological, physical and gynaecological needs – and mentoring women leaders and women’s groups to continue their peace building and conflict transformation efforts. With the move to a more holistic approach (of research, advocacy, healing, skills building and mentorship for peace), it has become increasingly recognized that the organisation is no longer solely a platform for women’s international cross-cultural exchange. As such, we deemed it necessary to adopt a name that reflects our core focus on igniting women’s leadership, amplifying their voices and deepening their activism in recreating peace.
The new name Women’s International Peace Centre reflects our commitment to create an incubator for women seeking to re-create peace and live in peace across the globe. The change in name is also timely as the name Isis has been adopted by other actors with views and actions antithetical to ours.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
has experienced a series of conflicts since gaining independence in the 1960s with
an impact on the governance and livelihoods of the citizens and spill-over to
the neighbouring countries of the Great Lakes Region. A number of dialogues
have been initiated through the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in
the Great Lakes Region; the Peace and Security Cooperation Framework for DRC
and others. The DRC has launched its second-generation NAP and has been upfront
in providing relevant frameworks to promote the women, peace and security
agenda. DRC is also emerging from an electoral process held on 30th December
2018 that has brought in new leadership at different levels. Women have played
a significant role in all these peacebuilding and governance processes.
In this regard, The Centre has in
partnership with Karibu Jeunesse Nouvelle Association des Femmes Des Medias and
the Ministry of Gender,Family and Children conducted a five-day leadership
institute from 20th to 26th June, bringing together 20
women leaders from political parties and the civil society on the topic “Women’s
Political Participation for Peace and Security”. The training aimed to strengthen the capacity
of women leaders to engage in and influence post-conflict decision-making and
governance as well as to demand accountability from policymakers towards realising
the meaningful inclusion of women in governance and decision-making in
Democratic Republic of Congo -.
Participants looked at the background
and context of Women, peace and security Participants looked at Transformative Leadership, Feminist Leadership,
Communication in Leadership, training on UNSCR 1325, and coaching in Women’s
Participation in leadership.
Elections are an important mechanism in democratic and peace processes as they provide citizens with an opportunity to choose freely their political leaders and allocate power peacefully. However, underlying tensions in a society and high-stake competition can also result in violent and fraudulous elections. Based on its mandate in peacebuilding, Women’s International Peace Centre with support from Kingdom of Belgium are implementing a 2yr project “Promoting Peaceful Electoral Processes in Uganda through Constructive Engagements” in the districts of Kampala, Lira, Soroti, Luweero and Rukungiri.
Inception meetings were held to introduce the Districts to the project. The project aims to reduce violence and conflict in the electoral processes by;
Creating a platform for research and knowledge generation and sharing on election-related conflict in Uganda
Developing informed peace training content, programmes and tools to strengthen peace building for electoral processes.
Strengthening capacities for coordination and information systems management for monitoring and tracking programme delivery.
The Centre will conduct research on Election Violence in Arua, Soroti, Rukungiri and Kampala District, design training materials, train 50 youth peer educators and 50 women peace advocates in trainers, hold Youth dialogues & debates establishing of youth peace committees to mitigate conflict during the electoral processes.
The Peace Centre researches and documents the critical yet often-neglected experiences of women in situations of armed conflict globally. Since 1996, we have provided data and information on women, peace and security, highlighting human rights violations against women and women’s human rights defenders.
We acknowledge that women are knowers and not merely sources of data. As such we listen to women’s voices to gain access to and amplify their insights, voices and experiences.
Isis-WICCE research has been conducted in 27 countries including 15 countries in Africa (Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Southern Sudan) and 12 countries in Asia, Latin America and the Balkans (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri-Lanka, Yugoslavia and Nepal)
Some of the researches conducted by The Peace Centre include;
Women’s Experiences of Armed Conflict in Uganda- Luweero District 1998
Women’s Experiences of Armed Conflict in Uganda- Gulu District 2001
Documentation of Teso Women’s Experiences of Armed Conflict 2002
Restoring Hope in their Own Voices
Women, Armed Conflict and Food Security in Uganda 2004
Women’s Contribution to Poverty Eradication; The Missing Link 2004
Empowering Women Against Poverty; Tapping the Knowledge of Grassroots Women 2004
Facing The Rising Sun 2005
Women on the Move; Engendering Peace Building in Uganda 2005
Medical Interventional Study of War Affected Kitgum District 2006
Nurturers of Peace, Sustainers of Africa; Selected Women’s Peace Initiatives 2006
Women’s Experiences During Armed Conflict in South Sudan; The Case Of Juba County, Central Equatorial State 2007
A Situation Analysis of the Women Survivors in Armed Conflict- Liberia 2008
Child Marriage and Its Impact on Development Kasese 2011
Unveling Justice; Rape Survivors Speak Out 2011
Raising Hope; Reclaiming lives in Lira District, Northern Uganda 2011
Invest in Women Develop South Sudan 2011
A Review on Militarism, Sexual and Gender Based Violence against Women: Anecdotal evidence from Kasese District in Uganda, 2011
Redressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence; A Review of Governments’ Performance in the Great Lakes Region of Africa 2012
Kashmiri Women; The Burden of Conflict, Half Widowhood and Its Psychological Health Effects 2012
Making Gender-Just Remedy and Reparation Possible; Upholding the Rights of Women and Girls in the Greater North of Uganda 2013
Pushed to the Periphery; The Necessity of Women’s Innovation in Activating Post Conflict Reconstruction 2013
Forced To Flee; Voices of Congolese Refugee Women In Uganda 2014
Towards an Anti-Sexual Gender Based Violence Norm in the Great Lakes Region; A Civil Society Review of the Implementation of the 2011 ICGLR Kampala Declaration 2014
Making A Difference Beyond Numbers; Towards Women’s Substantive Engagement in Political Leadership in Uganda- 2015
Advancing Women’s Rights in Conflict and Post Conflict settings 2016
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Cash Transfer Programs and Post Trauma Services for Economic Empowerment of Women in Uganda (EWP-U) Research Report 2018
The Key to Change Supporting Civil Society and Women’s Rights Organisations in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Contexts Overarching Report 2020
Supporting Civil Society and Women’s Rights Organisations in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Contexts South Sudan Report 2020
Now and the Future Gender Equality, Peace and Security in a COVID-19 World 2020
Crises and Conflict directly derails education, yet it is education that is a catalysis towards renascence of Africa. The number and intensity of violent conflicts has increased in the past decade and Africa has not been an exception. In 2017 Africa experienced 18 state-based conflicts, a decrease from 21 in 2016, though the continent experienced a significant increase in non-state conflict; and the denominator is that girls and women bear the greatest human casualties. Based on the high population of girls and women affected by these conflicts, it is important that conversations majoring on education are focused towards actualization of education right during and post conflict periods. It is known that existing power dynamics and inequalities are amplified during conflicts, educational gains lost, social fabric torn, and thus jeopardizing the achievements of the continent’s Agenda 2063.
There is need to deliberate, understand and exchange ideas on policies, legislation, plans, financing and monitoring reforms within the education continuum while being cognizant of conflict situations in Africa. It is within this context that The Centre joined the Government of Kenya, the Canadian Government in collaboration with the Office of Special envoy of chairperson for African Union Commission of Women Peace & Security, and the Forum for African Women Educationalist (FAWE) in a one day conference focusing on girls and women’s access to education in conflict and post conflict situations in Africa and review existing implementation mechanisms by governments, CSOs and education stakeholders to harmonize execution, strengthen synergy and alignment to regional, continental and global educational frameworks.
The conference recommendations will contribute to the outcome document to be presented as African position on girls and women education in conflict during the Women Deliver conference in Canada in June 2019. The outcome of these deliberations will lead to formulation of policies for the continental position paper on girls and women education in conflict to be tabled at the African Union next Ordinary Session for endorsement and also inform the framework that the Office of African Union Special Envoy Women Peace & Security is currently adapting towards advocacy on education for girls and women in conflict, guide various government implementation strategies in conflict education as well as inform FAWE and other CSOs working education in conflict in Africa.
The #EducationInConflict conversation was held at Windsor Golf and Country Hotel in Nairobi Kenya, on 22nd May 2019 bringing representation from Government of Kenya, Government of Canada, African Union, all 33 countries where FAWE has presence, government representation from countries who are / have been faced directly /indirectly by conflict, within the past decade, civil society under GIMAC, the academia and experts in education in emergencies.
On 16th May 2018, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union Commission adopted the Continental Results Framework (CRF) that aims to accelerate delivery on commitments made over years by Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other stakeholders on Women, Peace and Security Agenda. And 18yrs after the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that anchored the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and despite the existence of numerous instruments at the Global, Continental and National Levels, women’s role and leadership in peace and security processes on the African continent remains marginal.
Efforts to ensure that the voices of women are heard and taken into consideration in conflict prevention and peacebuilding includes the establishment of Regional Women, Peace and Security Forums in various parts of Africa. Recent efforts to strengthen the leadership of women in Africa include the creation of a Network of African Women Mediators (FemWise) and the establishment of an African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), as vehicles for women leaders in various areas to contribute to the transformation of Africa, in line with Africa Agenda 2063.
Building on these initiatives, the Office of the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) convened a consultative meeting of Regional Women Peace Forums in Africa, Regional Economic Communities(RECs), Centres of Excellence on Women, Peace and Security and other Networks, in partnership with the Women’s International Peace Centre with the aim to establish an informal platform that provides space to share experiences and explore ways to speak with a united voice, advocating for women leadership in peace processes and delivery on commitments across the continent, using the Continental Results Framework and other adopted regional instruments. The meeting also provided women of Africa with an opportunity to join hands and examine profoundly their role in silencing the guns, as a path to bring lasting peace to the continent. The year 2020 marks also the 20th anniversary of UNSCR1325 that constitutes the bedrock of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The Forum provided an opportunity to review the implementation of UNSCR1325 in the region and identify priority areas towards 1325 at 20 years.
As one of the leading actors on Women, Peace and Security, Women’s International Peace Centre prioritises strengthening and re-igniting women’s leadership potential to build peace because women and girls bear the burden of armed conflict and war. The periods of transition from conflict to peace offer opportunities for women to participate in the rebuilding and reshaping of societies. However, to enable women maintain the momentum required in the different spaces of engagement, they require specialized skills and a support network. The 2019 5-day WIPC Leadership Institute focused on 20 vibrant women leaders from South Sudan, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) including refugee women leaders living in Uganda. These countries assented to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and have developed National Action Plans for its implementation. Read More “Feminist Leadership Institute on Women Peace and Security; Africa Cohort.”
This report looks back into the year and describes what we have accomplished with our Partners. We enhanced women’s expertise to influence and transform peace processes, made deliberate attempts to claim spaces to ensure women influence and participate in peace processes at all levels, made information available for women to influence decision-making in peace processes and continued to strengthen the holistic wellbeing of women in post-conflict settings.
The Centre with support from African Women’s Development Fund
(AWDF) are implementing a 2yr project on
“Women Leading Change In Post
Conflict Governance” in South
Sudan focused on supporting advocacy for the implementation of the National
Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 for the inclusion of a significant number of women in
implementation of the peace agreement and in mediation processes. The project
also seeks to enable national monitoring and reporting on 1325 implementation
progress against the AU Continental Results Framework in an effort to advance
the women, peace and security agenda. Our mission to Juba, South Sudan on 15th
April introduced the project to the Ministry of Gender and targeted women’s
rights organisations working on UNSCR 1325 as well as gather key information on
the current status of women’s participation in post-conflict governance and
1325 NAP implementation.
reforms are intended to connect the numeric and the substantive representation
of women. Gender-responsive governance ensures that institutions respond more
effectively to women’s needs and priorities; enhance women’s wellbeing,
livelihoods and citizen-ship rights; and build government institutions that
require and produce more participation by women, and not only by women elites,
but also by grassroots women.
For millions of young people around the world, the onset of adolescence brings not only changes to their bodies but also new vulnerabilities to human rights abuses, particularly in the arenas of sexuality, marriage and childbearing.
Millions of girls are coerced into unwanted sex or marriage, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, and dangerous childbirth. Yet too many adolescents face barriers to reproductive health information and care. Even those able to find accurate information about their health and rights may be unable to access the services needed to protect their health.
In partnership with Akwenyutu People Living with HIV&AIDS (APHAS), we conducted a 2-day Girls Leadership camp reaching out to 128 girls helping them to recognize and avert risks and improve their reproductive health. The girls were trained in understanding their bodies, HIV&AIDS, stigma & discrimination, positive living, knowing/understanding their menstrual cycle, menstrual hygiene and making Re-usable sanitary pads.
School-based sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education is one of the most important and widespread ways to help adolescents to recognize and avert risks and improve their reproductive health. Schools are the primary institutions able to reach a majority of adolescents, while also having an impact at the community level. They have the infrastructure, the tools and the staff trained to teach. In many developing countries teachers assume an important role in the community, while also serving as role models to many adolescents. By providing reproductive health programmes early, schools encourage the formation of healthy sexual attitudes and practices.
Women’s International Peace Centre hosted a side event on 15th March 2019 on Gender Responsive Social Protection in conflict affected settings focused on feminist peace and social protection for women affected by conflict the margins of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) speaking to the priority theme: Social Protection Systems, Access to Public Services and Sustainable Infrastructure for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls.
Women leaders from Liberia, Nepal and Uganda shared research findings, lived experiences of women and lessons from programming in post-conflict settings to shed light on the needs and expectations of women and girls affected by conflict in relation to recovering from shocks, building resilience, accessing inclusive gender-responsive public services and true social protection.
The discussion focused on the findings of the study by The Centre/Tilburg, Makerere and Mbarara Universities on the Cost-Benefit of Social Protection Schemes such as cash transfer programmes and post trauma services for the empowerment of women in post-conflict Northern Uganda. The findings were reflected on using the realities in post-conflict, post- Liberia Ebola crisis with specific cases demonstrating the scale of trauma and its impact on the success of cash programmes for women (shared by My Voice My Safety/Ministry of Gender, Liberia) and the challenges of women’s rights and peace building in Nepal, in the absence of knowledge on the centrality of holistic trauma relief (by National Association of Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) Nepal) with closing reflections from Cordaid Women Peace and Security Advisor.
We also organized a joint event on improving social protection outcomes for conflict-affected and grassroots women with Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS), Action Aid and the Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security hosted by the AU Permanent Mission to the UN on 15th March 2019.
Through communication and knowledge management, The Centre, formerly Isis-WICCE seeks to inform and influence global discourse on gender, peace and security, serving as a vital resource hub and reference point for policy makers, activists, academia, civil society, ordinary women and men to effect gender-responsive social change.
We prioritise sharing information and communicating directly to decision-makers as well as a diverse set of individuals shaping women’s lives at local, national, regional and international levels.
Through this, The Centre contributes to building an informed wave of world leaders who respect gender diversity and uphold women’s rights.
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In February, Women’s International Peace Centre as the Peace and Security thematic lead of the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) cohosted the 33rd GIMAC Consultative Meeting on Mainstreaming Gender Equality in African which took place on the 3rd to 4th February,2019 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme: “Towards Gender Responsive Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement”. The theme was aligned with the African Union (AU) dedication of the year 2019 as the year for “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement”.
This year’s theme sought to tackle the issue of forced displacement in Africa which is largely due to conflict, natural disasters, human rights violations or political instability that has resulted in over 12 million internally displaced persons and an estimated 6.2 million refugees and asylum seekers across the continent. Women and girls who are forcibly displaced by conflict, natural disasters, economic reasons or other causes, face specific threats and diverse forms of gender-based discrimination, violence and human rights violations. Their access to legal protection, safety, gender-responsive assistance, a life of dignity and respect for their rights is often further undermined by factors such as age, disability, previous marginalized social position among others.
The panel discussions tackled Governance, Peace and Security; Early Warning and Early Response for Prevention of Crises and Forced Displacement, Integration and Return of Refugees and IDPs: registration and documentation processes, discriminatory laws, and inclusion in national development frameworks, Gender-responsive Humanitarian Response: addressing human security needs of IDPs and refugees including physical, psychosocial, legal, health etc, Displaced Women’s Contributions to Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement and Seeking Accountability for Non-implementation of Policy Commitments, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Education in emergency situations, Accountability for Implementation of Policy Commitments and the Solemn Declaration Index Monitoring Report.
The 33rd GIMAC brought together over 250 delegates from over 30 countries, including representatives of Diplomatic Missions, African Union and United Nations officials, leading Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on Gender in Africa and other interested groups in advancing women’s rights in Africa.
Drawing from the two-day discussions, participants recommended an increase in public investment in provisioning of gender-responsive services in IDP settlements, Invest in education technology to refugees, IDPs and returnee children, introduce Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Conflicts, engage men as partners in the fight against SGBV and GBV and also encourage judicial institutions to establish mechanisms that will eliminate and fast track sexual and gender-based violence cases especially the inclusion of forensic technology and post-incident trauma care.
The 34th GIMAC will take place from 29th to 30th June in Niamey, Niger under the theme “1st GIMAC Strategic Engagement with AU, RECs and Partners on the AU Summit Theme of the Year.”
On the margins of the 33rd Pre-summit Consultative Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming in the African Union, The Women’s International Peace Centre held a Regional Exchange from 31st January to 1st February 2019 at Azzeman Hotel, Addis Ababa. The Regional Exchange brought together 35 women peace builders from Burundi, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda sharing information on women’s experiences of conflict/post conflict, promoting women’s rights and capacities and attempts to claim spaces to influence the peace processes. The women reflected on their role in peace building and conflict resolution in each country and at regional level, define a common vision for peace as women of the region and identified, shared priorities and approaches to strengthen the role of women in peace building and conflict resolution, nationally and at regional level.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325 in 2020, documented evidence demonstrates that though peace is more long-lasting as a result of women’s meaningful participation in peace, security and humanitarian processes, that value does not consistently translate into women’s inclusion or participation in peace negotiations and implementation mechanisms. Isis-WICCE/The Centre under its new strategic plan has renewed its commitment to facilitate platforms for women to claim space and participate in national and regional peace processes with impact.
At regional level, the Office of the Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security has created a continental results framework for monitoring and reporting on the WPS in Africa and the African Union has designated 2019 as the year to work towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa, many of which are caused by conflict; this was a critical moment to further reflect on progress in advancing the women, peace and security agenda.
Agenda 2063 presents the vision of the African Union, to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in international arena. Aspiration 4 reflects the goal of a peaceful and secure Africa. This is mirrored by the AU’s decision to Silence the Guns by 2020 and in declaring 2010-2020 the African Women’s Decade. 2019 marks nine years into both and provides an opportunity for reflection on the needs, concerns and agency of women on the continent along with efforts to address and amplify the same in line with peace building.
The ‘Women and Peacebuilding in Africa’ project looks at the cost of women’s exclusion and the possibilities for their inclusion in peace talks, peacebuilding, and politics in Somalia, Algeria, northern Nigeria, South Sudan, and Sudan. The project also examines the struggle for women’s rights legal reform and political representation as one important arena for stemming the tide of extremism related to violence in Africa.
The three themes that make up the project are:
Inclusion and exclusion in postconflict governance
Women activists’ informal peacebuilding strategies
18 years since the
adoption of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, implementation of the
Women, Peace and Security Agenda continues to falter. Despite eight resolutions
on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and a strong evidence base for action, women
continue to be side-lined. The numbers of women and young women engaging at the
highest levels of peace decision-making in their countries and in regional intergovernmental
processes continue to fall short; women, young women, and girls face
gender-related barriers as well as other obstacles such as (dis)ability,
ethnic, and sexual orientation, preventing their meaningful participation in
community level peace and security processes; funding for women’s organizations
remains dismal while funding for militarized security continues to increase.
2020 marks the 20th
Anniversary of UNSCR 1325, providing an important milestone to mobilize around
and demand accelerated action on the WPS agenda. In preparation for the 20th
anniversary of UNSCR 1325 in 2020, members from the coalition NGO Working Group
on Women, Peace and Security facilitated a forum during the October WPS Week
that brought together global feminist peace leaders to start the conversation
on how we can catalyze on moments ahead of the 2020 anniversary to ensure
holistic implementation of the WPS Agenda moving forward
The forum aimed to create the space for women from across the world to network
and share learning and experiences; identify key tensions and lessons
learned in navigating the challenges of implementing the women, peace and
security agenda; and identify key mobilizing
opportunities for 2019 and 2020, around which
to build collaborations
The annual United Nations Security Council (UNSC) open debate on
Women, Peace and Security reviewed the Secretary-General’s most recent report on Women, Peace and Security, and focused on “Promoting the
Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and Sustaining Peace
through Women’s Political and Economic Empowerment” organized by the Plurinational
State of Bolivia. This debate was an opportunity for representatives of Member
States, Observer States and regional organisations to assess their progress in
implementing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda as well as make new
commitments towards advancing WPS at local, national and regional levels.
In his intervention, the Secretary-General focused on the
importance of securing funding for women’s organisations and expertise, as well
as supporting women’s participation in peacebuilding at the local level. Civil
society speaker Randa Siniora Atallah, the first Palestinian woman to address
the UNSC in official public proceedings, Shared the experiences of women in the
Israeli occupation. The most prominent themes of the discussion included the
barriers that structural inequality poses to women, the effects of the lack of
resources on women’s meaningful participation, and the importance of civil
society in future implementation.
Many representatives used their statements to address structural
inequalities as an important theme to overcoming obstacles to women’s
meaningful participation and how they are linked. The representative of Bolivia
highlighted masculinities and patriarchal society as barriers to combating
violence and ensuring women’s participation. The representative of Albania
highlighted that masculinity was rooted in power. However, the discussion of
such inequalities went beyond tangible barriers; for example, the
representative of the International Organization of La Francophonie questioned
the usefulness of discussing empowerment altogether, suggesting that the
concept of women’s empowerment implied a stereotype that women required
capacity-building to perform duties, a question which was not mentioned when
discussing men’s capacity in peacebuilding. Therefore, the speakers agreed that
it is critical to dismantle stereotypes.
Given the increase in civil society speakers that were invited
to brief in the UNSC in the past three years, 6 (7%) of the 81 representatives
praised this inclusion as progress for women’s meaningful participation. In
particular, the representatives of Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands and the
United States highlighted the importance of increasing the number of civil
society speakers in future UNSC briefings.
Overall, the four pillars of the WPS Agenda, namely
participation, prevention, protection and relief & recovery, were generally
referenced by representatives. The theme of participation was addressed by 76
(94%) of the 81 representatives, primarily through general affirmations of the
importance of women’s participation as a necessary step to accessing economic
resources. Prevention and Relief & Recovery were both referenced frequently
by Member States, by 55 (68%) and 53 (65%) representatives, respectively. These
references were in the context of women’s participation as critical to ensuring
peace in pre- and post-conflict societies. Protection was referenced by 48
(59%) Member States, largely within the capacity of providing protection
services to women in relation to SGBV.
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.
Being a woman, itself often confronts you with a long and difficult process of emancipation and empowerment. Women and girls living with HIV and AIDS are not only facing the feminist process but are moreover victims of stigma and exclusion, especially in rural areas.
The programme “Livelihood Enhancement for social transformation for women living with HIV&AIDS in Orungo Sub County, Amuria District” was designed to strengthen the livelihood capacity of women living with HIV&AIDS in Orungo Sub-County, Amuria district in Uganda, with special emphasis on the members of Akwenyutu People Living with HIV&AIDS (APHAS). The project has been in effect since in October 2015–June 2018 with the overall objective of the intervention to increase access to sustainable livelihood opportunities for women living with HIV&AIDS. In 2016, Uganda experienced a prolonged drought resulting into poor harvests and famine. Families had nothing to feed on, had to depend on handouts and became destitute. For people living with HIV/AIDS, lack of adequate food was a challenge in the uptake of medication.
The APHAS leadership was responsible
for reaching out to the identified households and ensuring that they reach the
food distribution venue on the 24th of August 2017. Ever since, APHAS has
organized awareness raising sessions through music, dance and drama to over 3000
women and men in different communities. Isis-WICCE has engaged in enterprise
development, entrepreneurship training and providing agricultural inputs that
included seeds and tools to APHAS members
In partnership with APHAS, Isis-WICCE also organized a Girls’ Leadership Camp at Orungo PrimarySchool under the theme ‘My Body My Power’ from 2nd to 3rd June 2018. The girls’ leadership camp was attended by fifty (50) school girls aged between 9 – 12years from five primary schools; Orungo Primary School, Moruinera Primary School, Ocakai Primary School, Ococia Primary School, and Otubet Primary School. The girls were skilled in leadership, understanding their bodies, discovering their dreams and setting goals.
The University of Wisconsin – Madison in partnership with African researchers, Isis Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) and Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) conducted a research project that looks at the cost of women’s exclusion and the possibilities for their inclusion in peace processes, peacebuilding, and politics in countries affected by war in Africa. The research project also examined the struggle for women’s rights, legal reform and political representation as one important arena for stemming the tide of extremism related to violence in Africa.
In 2017, Isis-WICCE partnered with National Union of Women with Disabilities Uganda (NUWODU) and Gulu Women with Disabilities Union (GUWODU) to implement a 1yr project on “Increasing Access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights for Women with Disabilities” with funding from Amplify Change. The project sought to strengthen the capacity of Women with Disabilities (WwDs) to advocate for improved SRH services and improve competencies of service providers to ensure quality services for WwDs in Gulu district.
This year’s Feminist
Leadership Institute under the theme “Socio-cultural
transformation through the transformative leadership” kicked off with 15 Deputy
Chair of the all 13 districts of province 3 and Women Human Rights Defenders in
Nepal. This was an opportunity to embed a feminist approach to
bring social and cultural transformation, clarify transformatory leadership, enhance the knowledge of bodily
integrity, value women work, and identity, develop an understanding on causes
and consequences of violence against women from women’s perspective and build agency for Socio cultural transformation.
Our partner, National
Alliance of the Women Human Rights Defenders (NAWHRD) recently organized the
Feminist Forum in the all 7 provinces of Nepal with the theme “Women’s
bodily integrity, labor and identity is a pre requisite of Federal Republic
democratic Nepal”. This forum has acted as a common ground where the local level women representatives, women human right defenders, social activists,
politicians, journalists and other stakeholders come together to discuss plan
and strategize to create enabling environment to ensure women’s rights for the
five years tenure at local bodies.
The forum enabled women leaders to understand
their role to create enabling environment for every single woman in the country
to enjoy their right to bodily integrity, work and identity curbed by the
century long patriarchal socialization process.
In all these forums, the major difficulty shared by women elected was
not receiving proper cooperation from Mayors on their work. It was realized
that a lot of women elected are not clear on their role and are having
difficulty to assert their rights that are ensured by the constitution. In this
regard, NAWHRD, in partnership with Isis-WICCE is working together to provide
support to strengthen leadership position of these women elected.
There is growing recognition that stable peace and national prosperity can only be achieved when institutions are democratic and representative of all groups of society. Women’s full and equal participation and the integration of gender perspectives are key to democratic electoral processes in post-conflict situations. Isis-WICCE has conducted a number of collaborative actions in the Democratic Republic of Congo in accordance with the framework for cooperation for peace and security in the DRC and the 1325 Resolution of the UN Security Council.
In 2017, we joined forces with Karibu Jeunesse Nouvelle (KJN) to campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in Bukavu, DRC and the role of young people and musicians and actors in this fight. This partnership is to further strengthen the capacity of women, youth, and the media to participate in the 2018 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With funding from Global Fund for Women (GFW) we carried out civic education on Women’s Engagement in the Electoral process in DRC in partnership with Association des femmes des Medias – Sud Kivu (AFEM) in Bukavu. A training of 20 women leaders was conducted; 5 from each territory in Bukavu. In group discussions and pictorial reviews participants were able to appreciate the role of women in the electoral process, as well as improving the knowledge of women in the electoral process and the participation of women in the electoral process in DRC.
AFEM works for Congolese women’s
advancement through available media outlets. On this foundation the
organization establishes the vision of encouraging women’s freedom of
expression, informing women of their rights and fighting for equal rights
between men and women. It specializes in the production of rural and urban
radio shows with a major focus on women, drawing on radio clubs and local
activists as a base.
The Women’s was a month full of exciting events with lots to learn from. This year’s 62nd session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) focused on the empowerment of women and girls in rural areas from 12th to 23rd of March. Our team had the chance to be part of the gathering in New York City, engaging in discussions to exchange knowledge and also host its own side event on Grassroots Women Leaders Building Peacebuilding.
In partnership with CordaidGlobal Fund for Women, and Women’s Major Group we discussed Women’s Peace Building Initiatives; Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities in rural affected settings. Women and girls in rural areas are largely the primary survivors of armed conflict but their voices and representation are often excluded from formal peace processes or decision-making on peace and security.
It is important for development actors to know that women and girls in rural areas have the capacity to articulate what they want. Existing gender inequalities, the absence of women at peace tables, and the nature of peace talks as negotiations between warring parties and formally educated technocrats often translate into the under representation of rural women during transitional and post-conflict decision making processes. This then manifests itself in the shortage of rural women’s voices and the absence of specific policies and actions addressing the needs and specific status of rural women affected by conflict.
Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange Strategic Plan, 2013 to 2017, was dedicated to visions and goals intended to transform the organisation into a powerful entity that works and co-creates with strategic partners in conflict and post-conflict environments in different parts of the world. The five-year plan emerged from an evaluation of the organisation in 2013; an external evaluation was commissioned in 2017. The specific objectives were to assess the contextual relevance of the Strategic Plan and its appropriateness to the needs of beneficiaries; the coherence of interventions in relation to the goals and results set therein; effectiveness, in terms achieving the intended results; efficiency in relation to use of available resources; impact with regard to benefits that have accrued, and the sustainability of the interventions.
year begun with a number of exciting events and meetings from the 10th
African Union Gender Pre-Summit (AU-GPS) to African Young Women and Girls
Advocacy Training at the 31st GIMAC – AU Pre-Summit Meetings, and
the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign.
The 31st Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) Consultative Meeting on Mainstreaming Gender Equality in the African Union and Member States took place on the 20th-21st January, 2018 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia under the theme: “Corruption and Governance: Impact and Way out for Women, Children and Youth”. The theme was aligned with the African Union (AU) dedication of the year 2018 as the year for anti-corruption under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”.
Young Women and Girls Advocacy Training was held under the theme: A Corrupt
Free African: Unleashing potentials and Protecting Rights of Africa’s Young
People Especially Girls and Young Women. The training aimed to build the
capacity of youth to actively engage African leaders in designing solutions to
the issue of corruption as well as prepare them to be frontiers of Africa
Development and about 35 youth were trained. Our Executive Director, Helen
Kezie-Nwoha facilitated the session on advocacy and lobbying and shared
practical experience of how Isis-WICCE conducts advocacy and lobbying at the
African Union using the GIMAC platform.
The 31st GIMAC brought together over 150 delegates from over 30 countries, including representatives of Diplomatic Missions, African Union and United Nations officials, leading Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on Gender in Africa and other interested groups in advancing women’s rights in Africa. Drawing from the two-day discussions, participants outlined key recommendations. The meeting identified strategies and interventions that have continental implications in order to forestall the continued impact of corruption in governance, which hinder development, weaken the fabrics of sanity in the communities, promote violence and encourages avoidable negative consequences or marginalization and ethnocentrism.
At the beginning of the year, we set out to strengthen our existing partnerships and make new connections to ensure women live in peace and recreate peace across Africa and in Asia. We affirmed our desire to make meaningful progress on behalf of women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the sustainable development agenda and African Union’s agenda 2063. This year’s annual report offers an the opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months including the strides made, challenges faced and our collective impact on women and girls in conflict and post-conflict settings.
The report presents highlights of Isis-WICCE’s Seventh annual Peace Exposition held in Amuria district, Eastern Uganda under the theme “Families United Against Gender Based Violence and HIV/AIDS”. The 7th peace exposition brought community members, local government and civil society the opportunity to discuss HIV/AIDS and its links to gender-based violence while proposing solutions and committing to action for a peaceful Amuria.
This documentation provides an opportunity to illuminate covert and overt voices and actions of women political actors that most times get silenced in patriarchal political settings. Two cases of women political leaders are selected from Uganda and Zimbabwe respectively, with a specific intent of learning from their historical experiences particularly of those who participated in liberation struggles of the two countries as well as a new breed of women leaders that emerged in post-conflict political leadership thereof.
2016 was an eventful year for Africa and for the world, with
important implications for U.S.-Africa relations. From continuing
democratic consolidation and deepening trade ties in many countries to
the shocking electoral defeat and standoff in the Gambia, to South
Sudan’s escalating crisis, to the debates over the future of the ICC in
Africa, the year was marked by progress, setbacks, and change.
The Wilson Center Africa Program asked experts, scholars, and
policymakers to weigh in on the most important and impactful events on
the continent in 2016. They responded with this collection of brief and
insightful essays touching on issues of governance and democracy,
conflict and security, trade, and the role of international partnerships
across the African continent.
Isis-WICCE is a member of the Wilson Center Africa Program’s Southern
Voices Network and the Executive Director, Helen Kezie-Nwoha
contributed a piece on addressing the global challenge of migration and
the specific case of Uganda taking in refugees.
Some 50 women’s organizations from the DRC, Africa and the rest of the world call on President Kabila and other political actors to swiftly implement the 31 December agreement. (Full list of signatories and recipients below)
Dear All Parties to the 31st December Political Accord,
We, the undersigned women of the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa and across the world, welcome the
Global and Inclusive Political Accord of the Centre Interdiocésain de
Kinshasa, reached on the 31st
of December 2016. We congratulate each of you as signatories for
choosing peace over conflict. This agreement represents an important
step towards ensuring a peaceful future for DRC, though to do so, it is
vital that parties work together to translate the agreement into
tangible progress on the ground.
In a previous letter addressed to President Kabila on December 15th
2016, we stressed two urgent demands: first, that President Kabila
state publicly he will not run for a third term as Head of State; and
second, that he not support any amendments to the Constitution. We are
very pleased to see that that these two asks have been met and are
specifically mentioned in the agreement of the 31st December.
We now ask for all parties to the agreement to ensure two things:
1) To fully implement the Accord,
including by swiftly finalising an electoral schedule to ensure that
elections are held before the end of 2017.
2) To ensure that civil society, in
particular women, have a significant role in the follow-up mechanism for
the peace agreement (‘Conseil national pour le suivi de l’accord.’)
We call upon our sisters and brothers
across Africa and the international community to support your
leadership and efforts towards a successful implementation of the
agreement. We warmly welcome the response to the agreement by the
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and the United Nations
Security Council Presidential Statement. However we believe it is
ultimately Congolese leaders who can prioritize peace and bring
stability to the nation.
We express our gratitude to CENCO for
their role in this agreement being reached, and urge CENCO to continue
working with all sides to ensure the accords’ full implementation.
As signatories to the political
Accord, the world is watching you. We are watching you and remind you
that the security of the Democratic Republic of Congo is in your hands.
We urge you to use the political gains that you have secured with the
global inclusive accord to achieve the first ever peaceful and
democratic transition of power in the history of the DRC, and to pave
the way for lasting peace.
Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration.
Women’s Organisations from the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Action des Femmes pour le Développement (AFD)
Action pour la Paix et la Protection de l’Enfant (APPE)
Action pour la Protection des Droits Humains et de Développement Communautaire (APDHUD)
Agir pour la Reconstruction de notre espace et la convivialité (AGIREC)
Association pour le Développement des Initiatives Paysannes (ASSODIP)
Association de défense des Droits de la Femme (ADDF)
Association des Femmes Juristes Congolaises Représentation du Maniema (AFEJUCO/MMA)
Centre de Promotion Socio- Sanitaire (CEPROSSAN ASBL)
Centre d’Observation des Droits de l’homme et d’Assistance Sociale
Cercle internationale Pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, la paix et l’Environnement (CIDDHOPE)
Convention Pour le Respect des Droits de l’Homme (CRDH)
Femmes Agissons pour la Paix (FAP)
Femmes Engagées pour la Promotion de la Santé Intégrale (FEPSI
Femmes Juristes pour la défense des Droits de la Femme (FJDF)
Femmes Solidaires pour la Paix et le Développement (FSPD)
Great Lakes Human Right Program (GLHRP)
Groupe d’Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme et de Paix (GADHOP)
Mama Tupendane (MTP)
Mama Tushirikiane (MATU)
Maniema Libertés (MALI)
Maniema Yuende Mbele (MTM)
Mini Réseau de Plaidoyer de Protection/Butembo
Observatoire de la Dépense Publique (ODEP)
Pax Christi Butembo
Réseau des Para-juristes du Maniema (REPAJUMA)
Solidarité des Associations Féminines pour les Droits de Femmes et de l’Enfant (SAFDF)
Union des Femmes pour le Développement (UFD)
International Organisations :
Akina Mama wa Afrika, Uganda
Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), Uganda
Gender Empowerment for Sudan Organization (GESO), South Sudan
Inspiring Africa, Zimbabwe
Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (ISIS-WICCE), Uganda
Mouvement des Femmes Filles pour la Paix et la Sécurité au Burundi (MFFPS), Canada
Never Again Coalition, United States of America
People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), South Africa
People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF), Thailand
Regional Associates for Community Initiatives (RACI), Uganda
Rural Women and Youth Fund, Uganda
South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network (SSWEN), South Sudan
Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa Network (SIHA Network), Horn of Africa region
Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly, Swaziland
Uganda Women Writers’ Association (FEMRITE), Uganda
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), United Kingdom of Great Britain
Women and Girls for Peace and Security in Burundi, United States of America
Letter addressed to:
H.E. Joseph Kabila
President of the Democratic Republic of Congo
All parties to the Political Accord of the 31st December 2016:
Rassemblement des forces politiques et sociales
Front pour le Respect de la Constitution
African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security;
Conférence Nationale Episcopale du Congo
European Union Managing Director for Africa
Southern Africa Development Community Executive Secretary
Head of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO)
International Conference of the Great Lakes Region Executive Secretary representative
International Organization of the Francophonie Special Envoy
United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region
This was a remarkable year, Isis-WICCE adapted to a changing landscape, including new trends in conflict, militarism and fundamentalism that call for a new type of leadership by women. The organisation has faced new challenges and worked to overcome them, closing the year stronger and better prepared for the future. In 2016 we continued to strengthen existing partnerships and make new connections to ensure women live in peace and recreate peace across Africa and in Asia.
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)
In 2015 Isis-WICCE partnered with Tilburg University, Mbarara University and Makerere University to conduct research with the aim of identifying the impact of social protection schemes, such as cash transfers on economic resilience in order to influence policy. The research is focused on populations with high levels of income fragility and trauma, seeking to understand the impact of trauma on their use of cash transfers. Women are a specific focus of this study due to their particular economic and mental health vulnerabilities. This study targeted districts affected by the 20-year war between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Ugandan government in Northern Uganda including Kitgum, Lira, Soroti and Katakwi.
2015 was a significant year as the world adopted the 2015 development agenda and reviewed 15 years of implementing UNSCR 1325. Isis-WICCE played a significant role in the review process as our Executive Director was appointed to the 17-member advisory group on the global study on UNSCR1325. 2015 was also a year of internal transition as Isis-WICCE’s Executive Director of 20 years made the decision to move on. This was very significant as it preceded Isis-WICCE’s celebration of 20 years in Africa.
Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng’s leadership was celebrated not only by Isis-WICCE but also with the Ford Foundation honouring her work and contribution to the global women’s peace movement. After 20 years and in preparation for new leadership it was instructive to review Isis-WICCE’s systems and structures to ensure that the organization adapts easily to changes in leadership. 2015 saw shifts in responsibilities within the organization and the rethinking of Isis-WICCE’s direction. The strategic plan was reviewed considering the changing world order and new global trends in conflict and militarization.
Since 1996, Isis-WICCE had demonstrated an impressive alternative to the world’s limited responses to situations of armed conflict particularly in addressing women’s dire needs. We have had extensive experience and expertise working with women organizations, strategic partners and survivors of armed and post conflict, globally.
This paper therefore, summarizes Isis-WICCE’s contribution to the
achievement of the key aspects of the Beijing Platform for Action.
Working in post conflict settings has been a challenging and fulfilling
experience too. It also provides recommendations that will contribute
to the post 2015 sustainable development goals
This report provides a snapshot Think Tank that was held in Harare as a follow up to the previous Think Tanks that were held in Kampala. It gives an overview of the next steps as far as women and leadership in post conflict settings in Africa.
The report presents the highlights
of Isis-WICCE’s annual peace exposition that was held in 2010 to celebrate 10
years of the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution. The exposition
provided time and an effective platform for grassroots women’s organizations
working in the area of peace and security in Uganda to share successful
strategies and to review the extent to which government has implemented the
resolution and to call upon it to implement the National Action Plan for the
implementation of UNSCR 1325 and Goma Declaration.
It highlighted how various grassroots women’s activists and organizations have
been able to interpret this international framework into one they are able to
utilize in their communities. It also presented a valuable opportunity to share
information, best practices, and successful strategies, and highlight the
challenges and gaps that will inform the way forward in the implementation of
the resolution as well as the National Action Plan.
Due to the prolonged conflict in Kashmir, since 1989, thousands of civilians have been killed in Kashmir. While most of the killings have taken place at the hands of security forces from unprovoked shooting, fake encounters, in custody and other methods due to the result of actions by the non-state actors and militants. A conservative estimate of enforced disappearances puts it at 8000 while the state government acknowledges 4000 disappearance cases.
Many have been permanently physically disabled, some have been raped and some tortured leading them to become mentally ill. In fact, women have been the worst sufferers. They continue to suffer as mothers, spouses, widows, sisters and grandmothers. The worst affected however, are the half-widows/half wives.
Half widows suffer social, economic and emotional insecurity. Widowed women know that their husbands are dead, can take a decision about their future and are entitled to some compensation under State law.
Half-widows on the other hand are uncertain about the future and are only entitled to compensation on production of death certificates – which they never receive. This makes the half widows most vulnerable, as there are no legal or administrative remedies available to them.
The widows, orphans, half widows and half orphans face numerous challenges. These range from their limited rights to property; particularly land and houses owned by their husband’s families; to their right to compensation and right to re-marry.
Most half widows are Muslim and there is no consensus in Islamic law on their remarriage. All the major schools of thoughts, the Hanfia, the Maliki; Shaafi; Hambali and Jafria provide different guidance about remarriage. Thus while the Hanafi school says that a woman should wait for 90 years after her husband’s disappearance some scholars of Maliki school put the wait period as 4 years and some as 7 years. There is also an opinion that if the husband remains missing, without informing about his whereabouts even after proper investigation, the marriage is deemed dissolved.
Opinions also differ on the validity of a second marriage should the first husband return. Some are of the opinion that the second marriage is automatically nullified on arrival of the first husband. Others hold that the second marriage will remain valid if a Qazi nullifies the first marriage even when the first husband returns. As per a circular issued by Jammu and Kashmir government a few years back, a half widow has to wait for seven years after the disappearance of her husband to remarry.
However, a landmark judgment by a Kupwara court on December 31st, 1993 granted permission of remarriage to one Hamida whose husband Mohi-ud-din Bhat had disappeared just 4 years before.
Against this background, I decided to address this issue within the jurisprudence of Islam.
The difference in interpretation of Sharia law which binds every Muslim man and woman needed to be addressed in a rational manner and a consensus to be arrived at in the light of Quran and Hadith (sayings of Prophet) regarding the “wait period” in case of half widows willing to remarry.
I felt it was also important to sensitize the people about the socio-economic and emotional problems of widows and half-widows; to mobilize support and rehabilitate this sizeable population of Kashmir society.
I organised a congregation under the banner of Ehsaas(Conciliation Resources’ supported gender Peace building group in Indian Administered side of Kashmir) with an initiative to sensitize the community about the issues faced by the half widows and to find a consensus on the issue of re-marriage and property rights of the victims within the jurisprudence of Islam.
This was first such initiative by any group of civil society in Kashmir during the past 25 years of conflict.
Eight Ulema (religious scholars) from different schools of thought of Islam took part, along with members of civil society, representatives of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and a few half widows to discuss solutions to the critical issues faced by half widows.
Many brainstorming sessions were held with the Ulema, half widows, members APDP, civil society and women activists. Finally the Ulema reached a consensus to find a way for the half widows vis a vis their issues of re-marriage and the property.
They decided to pave way for half widows to re marry after four years of their husbands’ disappearance against many opposing rulings from different schools of thought. Wide coverage was given to this breakthrough in the State and national level papers. All sections of the society appreciated and lauded this effort.
Parveena Ahangar, Chair person of APDP, said, “These women (half-widows) have devoted their whole life in search of their husbands and in taking care of their children. I am not sure if all of them will remarry. But there has to be guidelines to address the issue of re-marriage and addressing property and inheritance issues.”
Ezabir Ali is an alumna of the 2013/14 Isis-WICCE International Exchange Programme Institute.
Burundi conflict is one of the prominent intrastate conflicts threatening stability in the Great Lakes Region and characterized by high rates of civilian casualties and massive human rights violations. As women and girls who want to see peace and calm restored in Burundi, the Barundikazi who were passionately interacting on media but had not met physically sought space to interact, connect, bond and chart out their collective course of action. A consultative meeting brought together the women’s movement from the region (Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda) in solidarity with the Burundi women to strategize for their effective participation in the dialogue for restoration of peace and security in Burundi.
The year 2014 marked 20 years of Isis-WICCE move from Geneva to Uganda and 40 years globally. We are very proud of our achievements over the years and we have geared up for the emerging challenges and realities in the world today.
Over the past twenty years, Isis-WICCE has emerged as a leader in the feminist discourse on peace and security. We have a wealth of data and knowledge collected over the long years of research and advocacy in Africa and Asia. We have managed to influence the mainstream discussion and understanding of conflict by ensuring that States and other stakeholders in peace and security understand human security beyond geographical dimensions of territorial integrity but rather the personal balance of body, mind and spirit, a perspective that has been ignored by mainstream actors. Since its birth, Isis-WICCE has grown rapidly and innovatively but for this growth to be maintained, and for us to optimize on the current opportunities and build on our achievements, there is need for more focus, optimization and scaling up our approaches to work. In order to maintain our feminist competitive edge and to keep striving for excellence, we need to continue renewing ourselves by stopping, reflecting and planning.
This edition of Women’s World presents an analysis of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Indicating that while significant progress has been made and milestones achieved, the gaps in the implementation of the Platform is obvious as no country in the world has achieved gender equality.
This report presents the voices and
perspective of women refugees in two refugee centers of Bubukwanga
Refugee Reception Center and Kyangwali Resettlement Center in western
Uganda. The report draws attention to three types of women’s
experiences; the attack that caused people to flee their homes in Kamago
in Eastern DRC, the escape from the situation.
The report interrogates whether
women in politics have made a difference or not and why? It acknowledges the
value and contribution of women’s physical presence in political leadership
especially their focus on gender sensitive policy and legislation. It questions
efforts on ‘engendering’ democracy through numerical inclusion of women into
existing democratic structures and formal political institutions without
addressing the structural complexities that inhibit the performance of women.
report provides highlights of the consultative meeting that was held with South
Sudanese women after the outbreak of the fresh conflict in South Sudan.
The purpose of the meeting was to analyze the underlying triggers of the
on-going conflict from a gender and feminist perspective; propose an
alternative approach and solutions to the problem at hand; and provide
insights and information on the impact of the on-going conflict on women and
girls in South Sudan as well as identifying a team of women who will influence the
peace negotiations at the African Union.
research documents and analyses how war crimes have continued to affect the
lives of female victims, their families and communities. It also provides an
understanding of reparations based on the experiences and perspectives of
women, girls their families and communities who suffered the serious crimes
during the armed conflict between the GoU and the LRA in the Greater North of
Uganda. The report in grounded on empirical data from in-depth interviews with
over 640 victims of serious crimes and their families from the sub-regions of
Acholi, Lango, Teso and West Nile in the Greater North of Uganda.
The report discusses the progress made by each
country under the three priority areas of SGBV prevention, punishment and
protection as well as support and compensation for survivors. It also reflects
country specific challenges and recommendations. The key finding is that
majority of the governments in the ICGLR have made great strides to fulfill the
commitments to prevent SGBV, punish perpetrators and support survivors.
However, rehabilitation of SGBV perpetrators has not been prioritize neither is
it included in the framework and national level implementation
The year 2013 meant a new journey for Isis-WICCE. We began implementing our new strategic plan after series of sessions involving reflections, critiques and strategizing for the future.
We developed our new strategic plan after series of sessions involving reflections, critiques and strategizing for the future. In line with the goals and objectives of the strategic plan, we have amplified voices, we ignited women’s agency to re(create) peace as defined by women. Oftentimes development approaches involve planning on behalf of communities. The implementation of those plans tends to perpetuate inequalities and disenfranchise women.
Our approach to work recognizes and respects the voices of women, girls, men, and boys in armed and post conflict countries. We challenged governments to deliver on policy promises and commitments made at national, regional and international levels through our documentations that reveal gaps in policy implementation particularly for countries where we worked. We provided healing to women; we believe that peace building cannot be sustained without healing the body, mind and spirit of women survivors. Over time, we observed that quantifying this type of work is very difficult, however we have used women’s stories to capture the changes in their lives, we have developed a monitoring framework to help us track the work we do and the difficulties that arise from the nature of our work. We are consoled that when we heal one woman, when we shift one woman’s life, it will impact on her wellbeing and also impact on the socio economic status of her family and the community at large.
The report presents the highlights of the 4th Peace Exposition held in Kotido district of the Karamoja sub-region. The Peace Expo is one of the national spaces created by Isis-WICCE to afford grassroots women the opportunity to meet their leaders and policymakers as they openly audit national and local post-conflict reconstruction plans as well as their effect on the affected communities.
The model showcases Isis-WICCE
strategies and initiatives of making a difference in women’s lives in
peace building and post conflict recovery processes in Africa and
beyond and making it part and parcel of the existing knowledge as a
contribution to feminist engagement at the level of political practice as well
as theory building
Isis-WICCE in partnership with
Jamme/Kashmir Association carried out a study on the ‘impact of armed conflict
on the Health of half widows in Kashmir- India’. The study explored the mental,
social and physical impact of violence on the health of the half widows,
mothers and sisters whose husbands and male relatives had gone missing due to
the conflict. Forty-five women were randomly selected from the three districts
of Srinagar, Baramulla and Kupwara of Kashmir valley, comprising of half widows
(whose husbands are missing in custody), mothers of disappeared persons (whose
sons are missing in custody), sisters (whose brothers are missing in custody)
and daughters of the missing persons. Key findings show that half widows have
become targets of sexual violence from those viewing them as defenseless.
This report provides an analysis of
the extent to which post conflict reconstruction efforts in Burundi, Liberia
and Sierra Leone have implemented national commitments for women’s participation
in conflict management, post conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation
processes, as provided for in UNSCR 1325. Based on semi-structured interviews
and focus group discussions with women’s activists, the research considered
diverse expressions of femininity that speak to notions of “peace” in terms of
local women’s groups contribution to bringing peace in all 3 countries, their
experiences and knowledge were not taken into account in the post conflict
phase neither were they considered key actors that could contribute effectively
to post conflict reconstruction.
The report presents highlights of
Isis-WICCE’s third annual Peace Exposition held in Lira district,
Northern Uganda under the “Zero Tolerance Against Sexual and Gender Based
Violence”. This report summarizes the discussions, recommendations and
interventions during the Peace Exposition.
The report documents Isis–
WICCE’s annual Peace Exposition that was held in Kasese in 2011 that
focused on ending child marriage in the district. It provided a space for
different stakeholders to speak out strongly against the practice of
marrying off young girls before the age of 18 that has for long existed in
Kasese district. It is a practice that has cast a dark shadow over the future
and lives of many young girls.
Child marriage has continued to be
one of the major factors affecting the achievement of development indices and
targets in Uganda. This report presents the findings of the study on “Child
Marriage and its impact on Development” which was carried out in Kasese
district (Western Uganda) in two counties; Busongora North.
The study provides the needed
information on the problem of child marriage and its socio economic impact on
the society. It directly shows that young children should instead be nurtured
for development programmes and progress of society. Involving the child mothers and fathers at
every stage of development calls for looking at the issue of child marriage
with holistic lenses; especially ensuring that victims and survivors get self esteem,
and are provided with means to enhance their well being. It is therefore a loud
reminder to policy makers, parents, cultural leaders, religious leaders and the
whole community to be part of the great strides Isis-WICCE is taking to end
child marriage and restore self worth in the affected that have lost hope in
the future. An abused generation cannot contribute to future progress.
The report examines the extent to
which survivors of rape and sexual violence access justice in Nepal as well as
the response mechanisms that are in place to address the concerns of rape
survivors. The study covered the 10 districts of Morang, Dhanushs, Kailali,
Udayapur, Kavrepalanchowk, Kathmandu, Baglung, Dailekh, Dolakha and Darchula.
The findings show that the
reporting and documentation of rape cases is still very marginal. An average of
443 cases in a year reflects a high prevalence ofrape if systems were conducive
for survivors to report. The analysis further indicates that rape is deeply
entrenched national problem that transcends class, caste, ethnicity, age,
economic, educational, geographical and religious status.
Situations of conflict perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence as women are forced and coerced into relationships and raped, which consistently abuses their dignity and exposed them to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS. In this book, Isis-WICCE publishes a collection of post-conflict communities in Liberia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. These stories of resilience and hope show that it is possible for women living with HIV&AIDS in post-conflict communities to make a difference in their lives and their immediate communities when they are given the means for empowerment.
Isis-WICCE, using its action-oriented approach noted the urgent need for the development of a standardized locally adapted training manual for use to train operational level health workers working in areas affected by armed conflict. This manual builds on the experiences of medical interventional work carried out by Isis-WICCE to bridge health gaps in post conflict communities. The prototype of this manual was pre-tested among health workers based in Kitgum district and among psychiatric clinical officers drawn from various war affected districts of Uganda, with their comments and suggestions considered in its revision.
This report presents the process leading up to and the analysis of the major findings of the short-term medical intervention that was undertaken by Isis-WICCE in the two counties of Maryland and Grand Kru in Liberia where a total of 1158 women and men war survivors were screened and received treatment. The key health conditions that were presented during the exercise included Vesico Vaginal Fistulae, genital prolapse, enlarged and elongated breasts, urinary tract infections, hernias, hydroceles, epilepsy and mental health disorders. The medical intervention was prompted by the findings from the Isis-WICCE report, ‘A situational analysis of the women survivors of the 1989-2003 conflict in Liberia,’ where the four counties of Lofa, Bong, Maryland and Grand Kru were studied.
visits are part of Isis-WICCE’s Exchange Programme; a practical, experiential
learning process, which opens eyes of adult learners to lives of other
communities and of new possibilities; address apathy; enhance dialogues between
communities and are a source of new energy and initiatives towards social
change. Exchange visits break boundaries and create a new awareness to other
realities. This report therefore documents the processes and strategies used on
the exchange visit, level of outreach and impact and lessons learnt.
The report highlights experiences
and challenges women and men encountered during the armed conflict in Liberia
in the counties of Maryland, Bong, Lofa and Grand Kru. It also highlights the
conduct of the warring groups during the conflict.
The 1993-2003 armed conflict in
Liberia and the sexual and Gender based violence that emanated had devastating
effects not only on individuals but also communities. The war destroyed social
service provision and delivery, social networks and kinship systems. The report
also reveals that torture and violence were not only committed by armed groups
especially on women and girls but were also systematically used by police and
prison officers, who were expected to be “custodians of peace.” It also
presents the conduct of the warring groups as experienced by survivors; clearly
detailing high levels of sexual violence.
The study documented the
experiences of South Sudanese women in the two decades-long armed conflict from
1983-2005. The study covered Juba town in Central Equatorial state. The study
shows the devastating impact of conflict on the political, socio-economic and
cultural dynamics of South Sudanese women. They were subjected to the most
humiliating, brutal and traumatizing experiences. Apart from gang rape, often
in the presence of their children, and spouses, women’s vaginas were mutilated
with bayonets while young girls would have their external genitalia especially
the clitoris cutout. Experiences of such gruesome torture and humiliation often
resulted into mental breakdown and physical health problems.
The study reveals that the
prolonged civil armed conflict greatly impacted on the population with acute
poverty, poor health, persistent insecurity of persons and property,
displacement and congestion in the internally displaced people’s camps.
The report assesses the impact of the war on women of Gulu District, Northern Uganda focusing on their war experiences, the effects of war on their health and economic status, the position of their rights, their coping mechanisms with the war and contributions to their society in distress. The study was carried out within the population originating from 13 sub counties of Gulu District but living in internally displaced people’s camps within an 18km radius of Gulu Municipality.
The key findings reveal that the population was exposed to traumatic experiences such as captivity, abductions, torture, killings, sexual abuse/violence, intimidation, walking long distances without food or water or walking barefooted in thorns and bushes and extreme humiliation to the women. The report also highlights the major health problems faced by the survivors which include reproductive health complications such as STIs including HIV&AIDS, broken and severed limbs and a host of other ailments. Psychosocial consequences were the most numerous.
Gulu District in Northern Uganda has been at the center of the Northern Uganda armed conflict that lasted more than 18yrs and saw more than 35,000 children abducted, 2 million people displaced into IDP camps and thousands killed. In July 2001 when the war was still ongoing, Isis-WICCE working with the medical professional team in Uganda undertook a short-term medical intervention in Awer internally displaced people’s camp. The study revealed that the population had suffered significant war traumatization including psychological, physical and sexual torture.