By Uganda Vanguard
KAMPALA – UN Women, the UN entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, concluded a five-day consultative meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo aimed at advancing gender equality in post conflict recovery interventions. The meeting was attended by women leaders and representatives from the United Nations, African Union and government.
The main objective of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for sharing knowledge and experience on how to strengthen women’s meaningful engagement and effective participation in political and governance processes during conflict resolution, peace agreements and political settlements. According to UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Dr. Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, women have always made peace in homes, families and can play a fundamental role in peace building and development frameworks. She said: “We want to speak together as women and the reason we are doing it regionally is because we want to involve our regional and African communities to speak with one voice and find strategies to influence ongoing peace building frameworks”. Dr. Izeduwa said that the main purpose of the convening was to make Africa and particularly East and Southern Africa a peaceful and safe space.
The meeting in Kampala was also attended by the Ambassador of Sweden to Uganda, H.E. Per Lindgarde who emphasized the role of women in conflict prevention and building peace and security. He said that meaningful participation of women has a demonstrated impact on the sustainability and effectiveness of the peace processes, economic development and social prosperity. “There is a momentum for women’s participation in the peace processes which we should seize and place full enjoyment of their rights at the core of international peace and security. This is necessary to successfully respond to crises in Africa and elsewhere”, he said. Ambassador Lindgarde informed participants that Sweden ensures that a percentage of aid flows to countries in conflict and post conflict situations is targeted for gender equality and women’s rights. He said that ensuring that women and girls enjoy their fundamental human rights requires challenging negative norms of masculinity and encourage men and boys to be agents of change to support the empowerment of women and girls.
UN Women Uganda Country Representative, Dr. Maxime Houinato, said that fostering the role of women in peace building processes can guarantee the stability of any nation. He said that women often get sidelined during negotiations because they are portrayed as victims who are not supposed to be participating in the search for peace. “Our experience, however, has showed that women are very active in conflict processes and therefor have to be called on to achieve peace and security” he said.
Participants appreciated the exchange of experiences and pledged to replicate best practices and lessoned learned in their respective countries. Ms. Fatima Musse Mohamed, Gender Advisor to National Independent Electoral Commission of Somalia said: “God willing, upon my return to Somalia, I will arrange many meetings, mobilize and create space for all women from various backgrounds where we will exchange ideas on how to enhance women political participation.” She said that she had learned the importance of having a common women’s agenda and overcoming differences.
The regional meeting brought together over fifty participants with vast experience and expertise on women, peace and security, policy making and governance. Participants shared good practices and lessons learned from the East and Southern Africa region and proposed effective and innovative solutions to promoting women’s participation in peace building and conflict resolution.
Oxfarm executive directo Ms Winnie Byanyima told Uganda Vanguard, “It is unfortunate that old people have stuck to power. It is time young people takeover leadership of this country.”
President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for over three decades and is now facing stiff challenge from a youth Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi who has been arrested several times and locked up in prison.