Human Rights Consultative Meetings -ZomboStarts: Saturday, 16 December 2017 - 10:00am
Ends: Saturday, 16 December 2017 - 14:00pm
Location: Atyak Sub-County, Zombo
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About this activity
Under its Parliamentary Human Rights Project, has been conducting grass root community meetings with mainly rural women and women leaders in the east and northern parts of the Country. Community Meetings within grass root communities in Northern and North Eastern Uganda sought to ascertain the nature of gender and women rights’ issues as well as economic rights relevant for consideration by the Human Rights Committee in Parliament. The consultative meeting on emerging human rights issues affecting women was done with support from Diakonia. The consultative meeting on emerging human rights issues affecting women was done in partnership with the Human Rights Commission office in West Nile. The views gathered from the report formed part of the CEPA advocacy with Parliament as well as inform the report of the Uganda Human Rights Commission. The meeting started at 10:30 and ended at 2:30 PM The participants were mainly women and women leaders from the sub-counties of Atyak and Nyapeya. The panel discussion involved local representatives, community development officer, and personnel from the Zombo probation office. These included; Orwodhi Tom, Girama Joan, and Amony Margret. The guest Speaker was Ms. Juliet Logose from the Uganda Human Rights Commission. Objective of the meeting • Empower women at the grass root to participate and spearhead their journey for equality, equity, and human rights in their communities while informing them of their economic Rights. • Increased stakeholders understanding and appreciation of the centrality of the Human Right Committee and Human Rights Affairs Commission in the protection and promotion of human rights in Uganda. • Enhance grass root understanding and appreciation of the Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Commission role as a duty bearer in protection and promotion of fundamental and other human rights and freedoms in addition to the increased participation of the women. The meeting was held in Atyak sub-county in Zombo district in West Nile. Atyak Sub County was chosen upon the advice of the Human Rights Commission office in West Nile, as being a hotbed for violence against women and abuse of their rights. In addition, Zombo ranks highest in the cases of child marriages, low levels of literacy, last year P.7 and Senior 4, in terms of school drop outs, poor performance among others. 1.3 Emerging issues from the Discussions Alcohol and substance abuse among men in the region has led to increased cases of gender-based violence, especially battery of women and children. Similarly, household income which would ideally support families out of poverty is wasted on alcohol. This leaves, women to pick up the pieces and fend for a family and yet they have no solid sources of income. Zombo is predominantly a coffee growing district and women are the biggest contributors to agricultural produce in families and in the communities. However, a number of them raised disappointment and worrying concerns that when it’s time to harvest they are denied control over the proceeds and family finances. This has disempowered many of them in the community. Oppressive Cultural practices in Zombo is also one of the contributors to the marginalization of women in the area. One such culture is the issue of inheritance of property in the cases of death in the family. Many widows are denied property and yet they are expected to look after their children. Access to land and land rights remains a big impediment to the women and their empowerment. The land is the most important factor of production, more critically for an agrarian community. Control over land and proceeds from it is the biggest tool used to my men in the families to control the women. In addition, women are the biggest victims of land conflict are women and children who have more stake in the land as their only source of production. A number of Women gave testimonies of how the families exclude them when making decisions on land such as selling the family land. There are so many cases of early and forced marriages that are not prosecuted. In a community that forces girls because of culture to drop out of school, the community is the perpetrator and abettor of this unfortunate. Even the few that have been reported lose morale because they cannot facilitate the movement to the police and can afford money for medical examination and effecting arrests. Women also suffer unfair oppression on account of stereotypes which have been entrenched in the mindset of many people and therefore influence the manner in which they treat women. For instance, Ms. Giwengi from Atyak Sub count observed that all witchcraft and bad omen is strictly blamed on the Women, so is sex of a child and barrenness. The women also raised concerns about not being consulted during key decisions in the community. In addition, there are limited spaces for women to freely express their views without fear of intimidation or the threat of by men and community leaders. As such many of them keep their pain and frustrations to themselves. Other issues include: • Early marriages that have forced girls to drop out of school to become teenage wives. • Increasing numbers of street children owing to negligence in homes. The struggle for equality and rights of women in this country has seen tremendous gains. The legal and policy framework of government is robust enough. However, for many women in rural communities, their reality is still stark as they are denied their constitutionally given rights. Key among them, which has limited their empowerment is access to land and productive resources. A lot more effort must be done by both the government and stakeholders to give women a voice, respond to their concerns and address the oppression of women. From the engagement with the women, the following recommendations emerged Recommendations
- There is a need to expand spaces for women to engage in constructive conversations that are geared towards exposing their oppression, concerns and solutions to the issues that affect them. In a culture that controls the narrative of women, it is impossible for them to gain the authority they deserve and are entitled to.
- The Uganda Police force in Zombo should be facilitated better to respond to cases of GBV. With only one Police surgeon who resides in Arua, cases of violence against women and girls shall continue to go unabated.
- Targeted campaigns should be made for men specifically since they are central in the rights of women and considering most are the perpetrators in GBV.
- The traditional cultural institution and religious institutions in the region should be involved in all interventions that are geared towards promoting the rights of women. As custodians of the culture and influence, their contribution will be key.
- Parliament task Zombo district police to produce a report on how many cases of gender-based violence, defilement, early marriages have been prosecuted. We cannot come up with sustainable interventions devoid of statistics especially on GBV, early child marriages and successes or rates of prosecution by Police