Make a donation to support our work
Socialise with us Online
Volunteer with Us
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.
The Impact of TEWPA:
TEWPA has established peacebuilding committees and animators in the community structures, who have continuously been trained in human rights and peace building processes to facilitate their interventions in their various villages. The organisation also organizes dialogues, debates, and Barazas with duty bearers and beneficiary communities, to create awareness on women rights and other issues.
TEWPA’s approach to empowerment of women is mainly through holding synergy meetings. The women are organized in consortiums as interest groups for successful advocacy on identified issues of women’s concern. TEWPA works with women and men from different ethnic/tribal/political groups as a way of creating collective action to influence decision makers. TEWPA has trained over 246 Alternative Dispute Resolution Activists(ADRAs), women and men, to mediate land disputes in Teso.
So far over 50 mediation clinics have been conducted and over 40 land cases successfully resolved. 325 women Peace Committees have been trained in peacebuilding processes and Human Rights, in the Teso and Karamoja regions and these have in turn reached over 1,967 community members, who experienced conflicts, who have successfully internalized what their rights and responsibilities are. Likewise, the community members have taken up the responsibility to educate others in their different villages. TEWPA has also built the capacity of 159 adolescent mothers on life skills to sustain themselves. This is carried out through making reusable sanitary wear; making liquid soap; and other entrepreneurship skills. The girls were also sensitized to join family planning. The organization has therefore succeeded in making communities understand these actions as means that make them peaceful, and therefore important to sustain. TEWPA has reached over 8,631 community members in Teso region in the past one year, to create awareness on women land rights.
You can Contact TEWPA here.
Teso Women Peace Activists (TEWPA)
Plot 13, Emokori Road, Kichinjaji Ward
P.O. Box 558 Soroti- City- Uganda
Email: email@example.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +256 782 718 422/+256 774 594 419/+ 256 754 590 655
By Esther Wasagali
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.
In 2019, the Peace Centre initiated a project that promotes women’s effective participation in peaceful electoral processes across Uganda, including in Kapelebyong district with the support of DGF Uganda. This initiative equips women leaders to participate in preventing violence and influencing formal decision-making structures to take action that promotes peace across the election cycle. Women leaders in the community and within the National Women’s Council structure were identified and trained as Violence Monitors to track conflict triggers and report these for early response by the Kapelebyong District Peace Committee.
During a sub-county level awareness and accountability session to address electoral issues raised by the community, The Peace Centre met Akol Ketty. The public dialogues include the Electoral Commission, the Police, technical and political sub-county leadership who are charged with taking action on reports from Violence Monitors and community members to ensure peaceful electoral processes. Akol was trained along with 49 other women who formed the team of Violence Monitors in Kapelebyong.
“I happened to be one of those identified to be trained on legal and electoral frameworks, leadership, mediation, peace building, conflict monitoring, early warning, reporting and public speaking. I never remained the same” she reflects. “With the skills and knowledge I acquired on democratic processes, leadership and mediation, I am unstoppable. I have gained confidence and learnt to demand and raise issues that others may fear to talk about. I now speak on behalf of people” says Akol Ketty
Following the training, Akol and the other Violence Monitors received a tool which they use to track incidents of violence in their communities by observing their surroundings, tracking local media, receiving reports from community members and visiting hotspot locations. On a monthly basis the Violence Monitors meet to share their reports with Analysts who verify and compile these reports for the monthly District Peace Committees where district authorities are charged with taking action to prevent, de-escalate or resolve conflicts and address any related concerns.
In the past months Akol Ketty has participated in Kapelebyong District Peace Committee meetings, raising issues documented by women monitors and analysts. She has also taken leadership in reporting back to the community and ensuring specific questions are answered during the community awareness and accountability sessions.
“Through the same platform [the community sessions] I revealed my interest to contest as theLocal Council Five Chairperson for Kabelebyong district” Akol recalls. Her journey was not without challenges. “I received a lot of negative comments from men and women telling me that the position is for men. But over time I had gained knowledge and confidence. I used that to challenge them with what the constitution states as the requirements for the position which I was a hundred percent in possession of. I competed for the position with 3 men and I was confident that with the leadership skills acquired I would win the race.”
While Akol did not take on the role of LCV Chair, she took on the duty of ensuring other women leaders at different levels were equipped to not only win but bring change. “During the elections I was referred to as “a consultant” to many women. I was guiding them on how to present themselves, to articulate issues, develop a winning manifestos and challenge the status quo regarding women issues and community concerns at large,” she says.
Her work and influence in ensuring peace, before, during and after elections continues. ““I have been involved in conflict mediation, documenting early warning incidences in my community and making referrals to relevant authorities. I have intervened in several cases including a case where a civil servant after interdiction was refused by all the sub counties to work. With my skills in mediation, I convened a meeting within the communities and convinced them to give her a second chance to serve and they accepted.” She credits her influence to the training and partnership with the Peace Centre,
“I am now a changed person and will continue sharing the knowledge acquired with fellow women. Before, I did not have such space but due to the exposure, I now sit on leadership committees within my community and at district level to air out issues that are affecting women.”
As a young woman living in a war-torn country where women are vulnerable in all aspects of life, I am working hard to ensure that young women and girls have access to safe spaces.
Meet Justina Musa, a young South Sudanese woman working as a Project Officer for TOFI (Together for Inclusion), an organization that works with persons with disabilities to ensure that they have access to human rights, inclusive education and economic empowerment. Justina has worked as a volunteer for the Young Women Christian Association South Sudan since 2014. In this conversation, Justina shares about her background in feminist peace building and her passion for women’s leadership.
Justina attended the 2017 Feminist Leadership Institute on Peace and Security. “The training with the Peace Centre sharpened my brain and gave me the motivation to be as strong as I am today. It boosted my passion for feminism and opened doors for me to participate in conferences where my voice matters. Some conferences I participated in included the Human Rights Summit in Geneva and the Commission on the Status of Women in New York. I also got the opportunity to work as a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Advisor in Norway” Justina Musa recalls. These interactions increased Justina’s confidence, and have given her courage to start the necessary conversations with strangers and stand and speak in front of a crowd.
Pushed by her dream to create safe spaces for women, Justina led the Let Girls Talk initiative where she sensitizes young women and girls about their rights and how they can claim them. These spaces help them to open up and share their experiences. She explains, “This has been one of the biggest achievements in my life, it is not an easy thing to get young women and girls to open up to you and share their stories with you, this has made me very strong and has given me the hope of standing up on behalf of many women.” The initiative brings young people together to share their experience about sexual health and reproduction and while Justina is proud of the work being done she admits that having support especially in terms of making the safe space enjoyable, providing them with pads, since some can not afford to buy and empowering them economically would push the initiative forward.
Justina’s passion for women’s leadership pushed her to become a change maker. However, she found that this was easier said than done and that is when she joined the Peace Centre’s Feminist Leadership Institute. The institute fueled her passion and she embarked on a journey to encourage more women to actively participate in decision-making processes and join political parties. Justina believed that this would give the young women room to actively be part of leadership processes and achieve their potential while inspiring other young women to realize their dreams.
Justina shares that sisterhood has kept her moving and motivated and is one of the most important things in her life, “I have gained a lot of support from my fellow young women who have become sisters in the journey of my life and the work I am doing”. She shared that interacting with people from different professions, nationalities, and cultures has given her a broader scope of life. “Every time I socialize with people from diverse backgrounds, ages, and points of view, I learn a lot and increase my knowledge” she elaborates.
Justina has big dreams and hopes to do wonderful things in terms of standing up for her fellow young women and girls in South Sudan who are vulnerable in the community and society. As a young woman living in South Sudan where generally women are marginalized out of roles of power and productive wage-paying jobs, Justina shares that she has faced numerous challenges, “Sometimes no one listens to you and you are being denied access to platforms where your voice would matter. You are being followed by security personnel and so on, which has been my biggest fear especially coming from South Sudan where insecurity is at the highest peak.”
Justina enjoys reading and her favorite author is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her dream is that Africa will one day have more women leaders.
My advice to the young women aspiring to lead is that let’s support each other and work as a team. I encourage the young women to pursue the training because it will build their capacities to be able to stand for peace and security for the women and girls in Africa. Justina Musa
Every quarter The Peace Centre’s Evelyn Birungi sits with one of our alumnae of the Feminist Leadership Institute to discuss their journey as women peace builders, the contributions they continue to make for feminist peace and security and their hopes for the future in Africa and Asia. To participate or to learn more about a specific woman peace builders, reach out at email@example.com
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.
At the parallel event we focused on the actions necessary for transformative change in the next 25 years, and as a Catalytic Member of the Generation Equality Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact, we discussed this in the context of a two hour moderated conversation in plenary with speakers making brief
submissions. The discussions included the role of academia in feminist peace building and creating the next
generation of transformational leaders which was led by Dr Angelina Mattijo Bazugbo, from the National Transformational Leadership Institute, University of Juba, South Sudan.
It also included conversation on the game changers necessary for real progress towards feminist peace from
the perspective of young women, refugee women and girls who were represented by, Eunice Pikiyiko, Crown the Woman South Sudan and Elizabeth from Nyumanzi Refugee Settlement respectively. Women peace mediators views were also shared by Aimee Imani Matabaro, Initiative de Lutte contre la Vulnerabilite et de promotion de la Personne humaine (ILVP).
The concrete actions necessary for us to see the transformative change associated with our vision of feminist peace over the next 25 years were discussed as;
The need for continued conversation and advocating for Safe spaces/Plat forms and Mechanisms to protect women peace builders from insecurity, threat of intimidation, revenge/retaliation from combatant behaviors in political institutions; and exhaustion as a result of excessive work of lobbying and advocacy. The need to provide resources to women and organizations to be able to translate WPS agenda and other policies into practice, without leaving out men and boys who remain responsible for preserving the gendered norms in the society.
The conversation in Burundi discussed the need to strengthen the potential influence of women, strengthen the women’s movement, work on social norms, practices and legal systems that block women in peace and security processes, and define a new approach that involves influencing key players at several levels. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it would be better first of all to understand that the various conflicts are due to the natural resources of the country. Women therefore need to be protected especially during the post-conflict period in their direct involvement as actors in all peace processes by granting them substantial means to actualize the solutions to their problems.
The executive director, Helen Kezie closed the conversation by linking to regional and global opportunities for monitoring, accountability and collective action. She asked the participants to think about ways in which we can sustain activism at the individual level and hold state and non-state actors accountable to holding peace. She stressed that we need to mentor young people so that when we leave we have built a critical mass.
The Peace Centre on 12th March 2021 brought together cultural leaders in Lira district to reflect on and document the existing value-driven practices in promoting nonviolence, coexistence, development and social transformation. The dialogue attended by 28 women, youth and cultural leaders was a chance to exchange experiences and explore ways to build connections with youth and women peacebuilders.
Recently, Uganda concluded it’s 2021 presidential elections which left many disgruntled. In political differences, political rivals often view forgiveness and reconciliation as a sign of defeat and weakness. Cultural leaders have continued to be fundamentally involved in mediation of communal conflicts since most conflicts are as a result of unequal distribution of resources and widespread corruption. However, the role of cultural leaders in mediation has not been given enough support and recognition as most societies have also disregarded them terming their techniques as old fashion ideologies due to the presence of modern practitioners of mediation and conflict managers.
The dialogue discussions focused on Lango cultural leadership structure and values and norms that promote peacebuilding approaches used in the Lango region. The cultural leaders emphasized the need to adapt to changes; in regards to the nature of dispute and to the current actors involved in conflict resolution. They also suggested the need to strengthen the cultural units within the Lango Sub-region because they are still experiencing disunity among different clans contributing to violence.
During the discussions, it was noted that nonviolence, harmony and peaceful co-existence will be possible if the Church, government and cultural institutions sit together and dialogue. The leaders shared that the differences or misunderstandings between these institutions have fueled unrest and this needs to be addressed. They suggested the need to strengthen the cultural units within the Lango Sub-region to address the disunity among different clans causing a lot of violence. The cultural leaders also advocated for a peaceful dialogue between church, cultural and political leadership.
One of the concerns for the cultural leaders was the disrespect they get from the youth who see elderly as old fashioned and the constant friction between them hindering peace and harmony. “As cultural leaders we need to find a common language to balance our communication with youth. We are moving into a digital world; we need to move first to embrace the change.” “Youth need a platform within clan meetings to be listened to. Some clans ignore the youth as “dot com” who have nothing to add. This is putting our culture behind once the majority population is ignored” one of the youth leaders noted.
The clan leaders shared that while the youth are eager to be involved in supporting peace and development, they generally lack the means or opportunities to do so. Following the dialogue with youth in Lira, the clear call is to explore how we can MORE effectively support and engage the growing number of youth peacebuilders using new approaches. To advance youth inclusion in peacebuilding processes, it is critical that we choose to perceive youth in general as agents of peacebuilding rather than threats to contain.
Young people who have experienced conflict have a vital role to play in peacebuilding. On 11th March 2021, The Peace Centre partnered with African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) to hosted a conversation in Baar Sub-County, Lira to promote and support young people’s meaningful involvement in peacebuilding at all levels. This was attended by 116 youth (59 women and 57 men) and 12 district and Sub-County leadership (5 women and 7 men). The youth dialogue focused on local peacebuilding approaches and building cohesion for community development.
During the dialogue the key conflicts that youth encounter and hinder their progress in their community were discussed including unemployment, unequal distribution of resources and the recently concluded unpeaceful elections characterised by intimidation and lack of civic education, alcoholism, drug abuse, cross generation marriage, land conflicts, gang rape, polygamy and political differences.
The youth shared that unemployment is a recurring issue due to the impact that conflict has had on the economic situation of young people, making it harder for them to qualify for jobs or have financial resources to support their livelihoods. They stressed that once youth are freed from resource constraints, then they will be able to engage individually and collectively in the search for peace in their communities.
Cultural norms have also not helped the youth to break through their struggles as young girls continue being forced to marry older men thus falling victims of domestic violence. The cross generational marriages are also affecting young men as many are marrying elderly women who can finance their wellbeing.
Land conflicts have also destabilized families especially youth as siblings are fighting each other creating divisions among families and different members of the society. To top this off the recently concluded elections have further fueled conflicts among youth as many were used as campaign agents amongst opposition parties with the wins and losses deeping the existing hatred.
“The just concluded elections had a lot of fiction. Those campaigning used a lot of harsh language and today many people don’t talk to each other or even greet one another”. Female youth participant.
The dialogue highlighted the bias against young people’s involvement in elections in Uganda explaining that the youth are viewed as troublemakers rather than potential actors for peacebuilding. The youth expressed their frustration in not having their voices heard limiting their contributions in ongoing discussions. One of the participants noted that the level of trust in young people is quite low with the common attitude in the community being ‘You’re younger than me, what can you teach me?’
This dialogue enabled the youth to open up and confront their fears of not understanding the laws and also unable to reach out to district leadership. It was an opportunity to raise their issues before their leaders who in turn acknowledged the need to hold such more dialogues with the youth.
The Peace Centre in partnership with the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Conflict Early Warning and Early Response Unit (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.
The Peace Centre and CEWERU presented the early warning reports and response progress for feedback by national level stakeholders. To support linkages and cross-learning, state and non-state actors working on conflict prevention, peace and security also shared early warning signals, mitigation measures, key learnings and best practices.
The meeting targeted thirty participants from CEWERU, Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Local Government (MLG), Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), National Women Council (NWC), NGOs including; Centre for Conflict Resolution (CECORE), Centre for Basic Research (CBR), Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC),Participants from Arua, Kassanda, Kapelebyong, Yumbe, Kotido and Adjumani and development partners including UN Women, UNDP and DGF.
The discussion focused on progress made by CEWERU and peace mediators. The participants shared the issues that still affect the existence of peace as the need for complete disarmament, incorporation of livelihood training to provide a chance for youth to access other sources of income, a need policy makers to be part of the national steering committee, and sustainability structures to be incorporated into the district levels for a longer project life.
The meeting also discussed how important and urgent it is to work on the peace policy so as to give a context of avoiding, handling and dealing with crisis and post life. The feedback meeting was then closed by Florence Kirabira from CEWERU who expressed her gratitude to the participants and the Peace Centre and promised that the issues discussed would be looked at by CEWERU.
By Diana Oroma
“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.
By Evelyn Birungi
On March 8th we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women during International Women’s Day. Marked annually women’s day is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about gender equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity or fundraise for female-focused charities.
This year, international women’s day is being celebrated under the theme “Women in leadership achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” highlighting the remarkable efforts by women to shape a more equitable future after COVID-19.
While the COVID-19 pandemic deepened and magnified various issues in our systems, it also highlighted the imbalance in gender roles and women’s access to decision making spaces. One of the biggest gaps illuminated was the absence of women in leadership positions making critical decisions about prevention and response to COVID-19. Taking a look at how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting women and girls from having to deal with paid work, housework and emotional work to the increased numbers of gender-based violence reports in the lockdown. The numbers reported were a reminder that like everything, pandemics are gendered in their impact.
This has not stopped women peace builders from providing crucial human security responses like informing the government about the needs of people in the community, or providing information to close gaps in health care and social services. Women are at the forefront of the crisis, where they show up as caregivers, doctors, nurses and community leaders making critical decisions. Gender balanced leadership is an essential part of developing valuable pandemic responses. This COVD-19 experience reinforces fact that women must be leaders and considered critical actors in all efforts to achieve sustainable solutions to crises and promote true peace and security.
It is important that women are deliberately supported, acknowledged and included in leadership to start to rebuild a post pandemic life. This year’s theme is a reminder that despite the work put into advancing the women peace and security agenda, there’s still much more to be done.
And as we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we acknowledge the contributions and heavy responsibilities women carry. We stand to support women’s rights and continue to facilitate and champion women’s leadership. Every day is a chance to do the same and we hope you start today.
Happy International Women’s Day.
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 2021.
To build their effective and meaningful participation in the formal and informal peace building processes; participants applied a gender lens to conflict and peace issues, discussed the gendered impact of conflict to further understand the conceptual and practical tools and the different roles that men and women play in peacetime and wartime.
The training also included a conflict analysis session, where women leaders were taken through the types of conflict, tools for conflict analysis such as the human knot, that demonstrates teamwork, communication skills and conflict management which helped participants identify the root causes, consequences and interventions for peacebuilding and conflict resolution in their communities.
Practical exercises were also used at our Peace Advocates training focused on negotiation through a drama on the Itesot traditional wedding ceremony that introduced participants to negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. During the negotiation process participants noted that negotiation begins by identifying the conflict, clarity about what is being offered and what is needed from the other party, effective communication between the parties & agreement to resolve the conflict.
The Peacebuilding and Leadership training is timely based on the fact that women’s participation in decision making, in peace building and post conflict recovery in Uganda is markedly low, particularly at local level. The training increased constructive engagement of women and youth who can effectively participate and influence the formal and informal peace building processes. As a result of the training, Women Mediation Networks were created in Gweri, Asuret, Arapai at sub county level in Soroti with the vision of a peaceful and prosperous community.
The Network which will prioritise sharing good practices, expertise and peer-to-peer learning, where women engaged in mediation in different contexts learn from each other also contributes to strengthening efforts to enhance women’s meaningful participation and influence in peace processes at all levels. The network will also empower women to dialogue with decision-makers for improved service delivery through radio talk shows and engaging local leaders. They look to address child neglect, land conflicts, SGBV, forced and early child marriages in the community.
Sexual and Gender Based Violence remains a silent epidemic in many humanitarian settings oftentimes associated with a wide range of physical, sexual and psychological health consequences. Sexual and Gender Based Violence refers to any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships.The Local Council one leader of Duba Village in Ciforo sub county shared that about 75% of women experience abuse in her community. 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.
Based on reports like this, the Peace Centre conducted four community dialogues to discuss 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. The procedures shared expectations for handling cases like case management, referrals and the ideal way people are supposed to act/ respond in handling sexual and gender based violence. Cases. The conversations were carried out in a host communities in Ciforo Sub County and Agojo Refugee settlement in Northern Uganda on 16th and 17th February 2021
The dialogues gathered 178 community leaders from cultural, political and religious institutions (77 men and 101 women)to influence their attitudes on SGBV.
Community leaders share that they identified, settled and referred 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.
Violence against women continues to happen because of the unbalanced power relationship which is deeply rooted in culture as well as the patriarchal nature of our society. Violence in the communities also increases as a result of alcoholism, poverty, women accessing family planning without spousal consent, reduction in food ration to the refugees, sharing resources like land, food among others are contributing to this.
The community dialogues provided an opportunity for community leaders to discuss key women peace and security issues and violence against women and learn the standard operating procedures for dealing with the cases.
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.
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 and AIDS to reduce discrimination and stigma.
The Peace Centre also held a talk on conquering fear and confidence building. Under the theme “My body My 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. 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.
Since June 2018, Women’s International Peace Centre has organized camps for adolescent girls aged between 9 and 16 years from five schools from Ocakai, Ococia, Otubet, Orungo and Moruinera Primary Schools during which skills girls in leadership, understanding their bodies, discovering their dreams and setting goals .
The Peace Centre between 22nd to 27th February conducted a training on Peacebuilding and Leadership for 50 women leaders and 50 youth leaders as peace advocates in Soroti district. The Women and youth leaders were from different political, religious, cultural and other different leadership positions. The Peacebuilding and Leadership training is timely based on the fact that women’s participation in decision making, in peace building and post conflict recovery in Uganda is markedly low, particularly at local level.
The training enhanced their conflict analysis, peacebuilding, governance, leadership and mediation skills. To build their effective and meaningful participation in the formal and informal peace building processes, participants were trained to apply a gender lens to conflict and peace issues. They also discussed the gendered impact of conflict to further understand the conceptual and practical tools and the different roles that men and women play in peacetime and wartime.
The women and youth leaders were trained in communication and conflict resolution to be able to address the issues of gender discrimination and problems of patriarchy in their society.
The training also included practical exercises and a conflict analysis session, where women leaders were taken through the types of conflict, tools for conflict analysis such as the human knot, that demonstrates teamwork, communication skills and conflict management which helped participants identify the root causes, consequences and interventions for peacebuilding and conflict resolution in their communities.
Practical exercises were also used at our Peace Advocates training focused on negotiation through a drama on the Itesot traditional wedding ceremony that introduced participants to negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. During the negotiation process participants noted that negotiation begins by identifying the conflict, clarity about what is being offered and what is needed from the other party, effective communication between the parties & agreement to resolve the conflict.
As a result of the training, Soroti Women’s Mediation Networks were created by the women leaders in Gweri, Asuret, Arapai at sub county level in Soroti with the vision of a peaceful and prosperous community. The networks hope to influence women to dialogue with decision-makers for improved service delivery through radio talk shows and engaging local leaders. They look to address child neglect, land conflicts, SGBV, forced and early child marriages in the community.
The Networks will also prioritise sharing good practices, expertise and peer-to-peer learning, where women engaged in mediation in different contexts learn from each. This will contribute to strengthening efforts to enhance women’s meaningful participation and influence in peace processes at all levels.
Youth for Girls’ Peace Network (Teso) was also formed by the Youth Leaders in Peacebuilding and Conflict Analysis with a goal to fight for girls’ rights to education and advocate against early marriage in their community. Apalat Freda, Chairperson of the Youth for Girls’ Peace Network is looking forward to transforming the lives of girls in Teso. She envisions a world where girls live in peace, have a voice and their rights are respected.
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. Just Future was 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 and peaceful societies.
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 will work in solidarity with CSOs in each country—especially those representing women, young people, displaced people, and identity-based groups—enabling them to represent the voices of the most excluded at the local, national, regional, and global levels.
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). The alliance hopes to change the situation through; Lobbying and advocacy toward state security and justice institutions (police, judiciaries, customary authorities), elected officials at local and national levels, and regional and international organizations like the African Union, EU and UN, based on research and evidence
Civil society Capacity strengthening, based on a shared learning agenda, enabling all Alliance members and country-level CSO partners to benefit from knowledge-sharing, peer mentoring, and tailored training—especially through fragile-fragile linkages. Just Future will be implemented by an Alliance of partner organizations.
The Just Future Consortium consists of:
Women’s International Peace Centre (WIPC):
Women’s International Peace Centre (The Centre), formerly Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE), is a feminist organization with a mission to ignite women’s leadership, amplify their voices and deepen their activism in re-creating peace.
African Security Sector Network (ASSN):
The African Security Sector Network (ASSN) is a pan-African network of experts and organizations working in the area of Security Sector Reform (SSR). Founded in 2003, the network is headquartered in Accra, Ghana, with regional hubs in Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Nairobi.
West Africa Network for Peacebuilding:
The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is a leading Regional Peacebuilding organization founded in 1998 in response to civil wars that plagued West Africa in the 1990s. Over the years, WANEP has succeeded in establishing strong national networks in every Member State of ECOWAS with over 500 member organizations across West Africa.
The Liaison Office Afghanistan (TLO):
Founded in 2003, The Liaison Office (TLO) is an Afghan non-governmental organization (NGO) that emerged from a Swiss peace pilot project on good governance after the organization was approached by South Eastern province community elders requesting assistance for participation in the peace and reconstruction process. TLO has since evolved into an independent Afghan NGO conducting research and analysis across Afghanistan.
Search for Common Ground:
Founded in 1982, Search for Common Ground works to transform the way the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving.
Search works with local partners to find culturally appropriate means to strengthen societies’ capacity to deal with conflicts constructively: to understand the differences and act on the commonalities. Search’s mission is to transform the way the world deals with conflict: away from adversarial approaches, toward cooperative solutions.
Cordaid is an internationally operating emergency relief and development organisation. Cordaid believes in a world where people can break through barriers of poverty and exclusion, influence decisions that affect them, and participate in equitable and resilient societies. Cordaid operates in fragile settings, where citizens have no access to even basic services, because of poverty, armed conflict or power imbalances. Cordaid supports local communities and their endeavors to improve healthcare, food security, education, security and justice. Where disasters strike, Cordaid offers humanitarian assistance.
Next to the Consortium, the Alliance consists of 3 research partners:
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):
SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public. Based in Stockholm, SIPRI is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide.
Rift Valley Institute (RVI):
The Rift Valley Institute (RVI) is an independent, non-profit organization, founded in Sudan in 2001, currently working in eastern and central Africa. The aim of the Institute is to advance useful knowledge of the region and its diverse communities, bringing a better understanding of local realities to bear on social and political action. The RVI works with institutions in the region to develop and implement long-term programmes that combine action-oriented research with education and public information.
Van Vollenhoven Institute of Leiden University (VVI):
The Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society (VVI) is part of the Leiden Law School. The VVI seeks to develop and disseminate socio-legal knowledge and theory regarding the interaction between law, governance and society. More specifically, the Institute studies the emergence, functioning, and evolution of legal institutions. The VVI combines a top-down with a bottom-up approach; it considers perspectives of both state agents, citizens and other non-state actors.
Finally, the Alliance also comprises our network partner:
Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS):
The Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) is a member-led international network composed of civil society actors, practitioners, experts and academics from the Global South and Global North who work together on conflict and crisis prevention, peacebuilding and statebuilding in over 27 fragile and conflict-affected countries (FCAS).
Together with partners and local communities, we will implement Just Future across 6 countries, as well as at the regional and global levels.
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.
“I intervened in a case involving 2 school going Dinka girls whose parents received dowry from some rich men in South Sudan. The dowry was over UGX. 70,000,000 and 29 cows. These girls were immediately withdrawn from school and taken by the men to South Sudan. When I learnt of the incident, I took interest in the case and followed up. I convinced the girls’ parents and the people who paid the bride price to at least let the girls finish school. The two parents made a written commitment to have the girls finish school before they can be married off. The girls are now back in school.” Daniel Chol, a Conflict Monitor, Nyumanzi Settlement
“I studied a course unit on Conflict Management at school but I did not know the practicability. It taught only me theory and it was hard for me to figure out the reality in handling conflict cases. But now I have practical skills and I am answering the conflict questions practically. Through the training, we got to know all the procedures like how to identify conflict incidences, how to document and how to report as well as all the procedures for conflict management and we are ably using it. I participated in handling and reporting a defilement case that involved my own brother. Before, I would not bother about the things happening around me. But this time I took up the mantle to guide the people who were handling the case.” Candiru Doreen, Conflict Analyst, Minia West
“The training gave me strength to talk and advocate for our rights at all levels. It was hard for me to speak before people but now I can. I was taken to Kampala to represent the voice of the refugees in a very high-profile meeting. I was interviewed about how the refugees are managing life. I explained everything clearly without any panic. In handling issues as a Refugee Welfare Councillor, I know the procedure to report conflict incidences in our community and we will be the very people to bring change in South Sudan.” Angua Irine, Conflict Monitor, Agojo Refugee Settlement
“The training helped me to handle my marriage in a better way. I have engaged my husband over the issue of coming back home late and He adjusted his time for returning home. I live with my mother-in-law harmonically despite her being a very difficult woman. All my co wives have issues with her but I learnt how to handle her and I don’t have any problem with her now. I also interfaced with a land conflict in our home. My uncles were taking advantage of our potion. I guided my family to have the land registered and it’s in process, as girls we took a lead and we will also be listed as the land owners.” Yangi Rutensia Made, Conflict Analyst, Lajopi Ginnery
The Peace Centre, as a member of the GIMAC Steering Committee co-hosted the 37th Pre-Summit CSOs Consultative Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming in the African Union and Member States from 31 January to 2nd February 2021. This included training of young women on advocacy at the African Union and facilitating the Peace and Security panel where the Peace Centre’s partner Centre for Inclusive Governance Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) highlighted the issue of non-implementation of the 35% quota for women’s leadership in the South Sudan peace agreement.
37th GIMAC highlighted the contribution of women & girls to Africa’s peace processes & economic integration, and will also review & consolidate a common position on the effectiveness & efficiency of the AU, RECs, and Member States in mainstreaming gender equality. This year’s meting aimed at consolidating CSOs review of the AU legal and strategic framework on arts, culture and heritage focusing on achievements and critical gaps towards implementation; proposal of inclusive, effective and efficient strategies that enhance and utilize the agency and role of women and girls in realizing the vision for a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics, building on the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area, StGs and AU Reforms.
The proposed key topics for discussion were guided by GIMAC’s six (6) thematic clusters, namely: Governance, Peace and Security, Human Rights, Health, Education and Economic Empowerment. In addition to the thematic focus of work, GIMAC established a sub-committee on girls and young women in 2017 to harness the demographic
and gender dividend. The outcome of the event was a set of key recommendations that will be utilized in advocacy towards the AU Summit and for the GIMAC to outline its roadmap and strategies with specific action points to inform effective coordination and implementation of AU Declarations at the RECs and national levels.
Our partner Carol Kibos from South Sudan
International Rescue Committee (IRC) trained 14 staff members from the Peace Centre on case management from 25th to 29th January 2021. The five-day training enabled participants to handle gender-based violence cases amongst urban refugees in Kampala.
This is in line with the Peace Centre and the IRC partnership on a project to reimagine, support, and reshape nationally driven and locally-led protection systems. The project titled, Scale-Up: Catalyzing Systems to Keep Refugees and Host Communities Safe from Violence (Safety and Power) will rapidly map and analyze how gender-based violence and child protection humanitarian interventions in the urban context, should link up to and be integrated into existing social protection, social welfare, child protection, and justice law and order sector systems. It will also feature engagement of the Centre’s alumni as some have been refugees themselves.
The training was facilitated by the IRC team who took participants through a couple of modules on GBV case management which included; understanding power and GBV and the theoretical foundation for a survivor-centered approach context, and causes of GBV among many others.
The Peace Centre in partnership with Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAP) and the Women Peace and Security Centre of the London School of Economics (LSE) studied the intersection between environmental conflict, peace and gender. This was to provide recommendations for the international community for how it can better ensure that women and girls’ human rights can be delivered despite the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change.
The research; conducted in Yumbe and Adjumani(Uganda), targeted refugee women and women in host communities. It was carried out to enable the International Community to better understand the context-specific and global gender, peace, and security impacts of COVID-19 and develop policy and programming responses was launched in a virtual event hosted by The London School of economics.
Hannah Bond, Director of Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS), and Bineta Diop the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Women, Peace, and Security, joined Our executive director Kezie Helen Nwoha in the launch to introduce the report on- Defending the Future:Gender, Conflict and Environmental Peace.
The research which is by the Women’s International Peace Centre in partnership with GAPS, and the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security focuses on the gendered impact of climate change and how this intersects with women and girls’ right to peace. This research report highlights that there is a growing recognition of the need for the Women, Peace, and Security agenda to take into account how the climate crisis poses risks to women and girls’ peace and security, particularly in conflict and post-conflict contexts.
The research also shares expert insight on the need to account for the risks posed by climate change to women, girls and peace and security and can be reached here.
In preparation for the 2021 presidential election, the Peace Centre conducted fourteen (14) election observer workshops across Uganda which were concluded with a final training held from 9th– 13th January 2021 in Kampala. The Peace Centre trained 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 2021.
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.
It was successful in training election observers 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 to ensure a difference this year. This enabled them to monitor elections and document electoral violence incidences in the eleven districts.
‘The UN Resolution 1325 has succeed in raising awareness of the women peace and security agenda.’ shared Helen Kezie Nwoha representing the Peace Centre shared in a conversation with joined leading women peace advocates from across the Commonwealth as they reimagined what ‘women, peace and security’ might mean for our future. The conversation comes two decades after the Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, part of a global effort to highlight the impact of conflict on women and the need to bring the voice of women into peace processes., it is clear that much remains to be done.
In this second event in the Commonwealth Foundation’s Critical Conversations series, the peace advocates discussed; how Resolution 1325 can be reimagined to better serve the needs and aspirations of women and communities across the Commonwealth. If mainstream approaches to women’s leadership in conflict resolution were actually working? How can women’s participation in peace processes be made more meaningful? How can women peace advocates secure better access to the forums and institutions where decisions are being made?
Speakers drew on their front-line experience to tackle these questions; sharing concrete examples of what has worked well and their perspectives on what needs to be done differently.
Watch this conversation here