In preparation for the 2021 presidential election, the Peace Centre conducted fourteen(14) election observer training in different districts in Uganda which were concluded on a final training held from 9th– 13th January 2021 in Kampala. The Peace Centre recruited a total of 540 election observers selected from sub-counties in Arua, Kassanda and Kapelebyong in addition to other districts of Soroti, Lira, Amuria, Kampala, Sembabule, Luwero, Ntugamo, Rukungiri, Yumbe, Kotido and Adjumani.
The training was successful in ensuring that each district had 40 trained election observers with election observation materials deployed to observe elections from 14th to January to 22nd January.
Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections and creates confidence in elections that can help promote sound democratic practices. This is vital as Uganda has not experienced peaceful, violent free democratic electoral processes since the introduction of multi-party politics in 1988. The political environment in the build-up to, during, and after elections has over the years become increasingly charged with reports of harassment, intimidation, acts of corruption, human rights abuses perpetrated by different political opponents.
To ensure a difference this year, the election observers were trained on Electoral Commission election observation guidelines, laws related to election observation, do’s and don’ts of an election observer, and provided tools for data collection. This enabled them to monitor elections and document electoral violence incidences in the eleven districts.
The 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.
The WSR is a tested mechanism that has been implemented in other African countries including Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda in 2016. The mechanism is a non-partisan platform that focuses on providing early response to election related violence incidents. The WSR works directly with the Electoral Commission and national security organs responsible for security in elections. It also engages with political party leaders, human rights commissions and civil society organizations to ensure peace before, during and after elections.
The 2021 Uganda Women’s Situation Room is set out to work in thirty (30) districts including; Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, Koboko, Arua, Lamwo, Nwoya, Kampala, Wakiso, Masaka, Luwero, Mityana, Sembabule, Kassanda, Serere, Iganga, Jinja, Mbale, Katakwi, Bugiri, Soroti, Hoima, Mbarara, Isingiro, Kasese, Ntungamo, Kabale, Rukungiri, Kanungu and Rubanda.
The key activities of the 2021 WSR include mobilization and engagement of women and youth to promote peaceful elections through an early warning and rapid response system to election related conflict and violence. The WSR will also train 3,000 women and youth in election observation to report potential and incidences of election related conflict and violence.
The Women’s Situation Room process works with a team of Eminent Women who are experienced, respected and non-partisan from different backgrounds.
The WSR in 2021 will have a team of 15 Eminent Women from Uganda and 10 Eminent Women from other African countries. The main role of the Eminent Women is mediation between different actors. They
receive election related incident reports and ensure real time response by the relevant authorities. A Group of The Wise, made up of four experienced senior citizens will provide support to the Eminent Women in their mediation role. All the above actions and activities will culminate into four regional Physical Situation Rooms where intervention and mediation by the Eminent Women will take place, supported by political, legal, gender and security analysts.
The 2021 WSR will have a Steering Committee made up of The Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), Women’s International Peace Centre (The Peace Centre), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Action for Development (ACFODE), Women Democracy Network Uganda Chapter (WDN-U), Center for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), Women Human
Rights Defenders Network-Uganda (WHRDN-U), National Union of Women with Disabilities (NUWODU), Uganda Media Women’s Association (UMWA), Institute for Social Transformation (IST), The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA-U), Center for Conflict Resolution (CECORE) and Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalisation(GWED-G) and Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET).