Parliament of Uganda Order paper 9th March 2021

Parliament of Uganda to discuss Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill 2020

Today 9th March 2021, Parliament of Uganda is set to discuss the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill 2020. In a consultative meeting held on August 13th 2020, organized by Defenders Protection Initiative, WHRDNU, represented by Brenda Kugonza presented a position paper advocating for a gender lens in the Bill.

Brenda Kugonza, Executive Director, Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda, delivers a position paper advocating for a gender based Human Rights Protection Bill
Brenda Kugonza, Executive Director, Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda, delivers a position paper advocating for a gender based Human Rights Protection Bill

This was meant to advocate and highlight the unique circumstances Women Human Rights Defenders face while carrying out their work.

Parliament of Uganda Order paper 9th March 2021
                                                            Parliament of Uganda Order paper 9th March 2021
Group picture

Heads Of Thematic Working Action Groups Meeting at WHRDNU offices

On Friday 19th February, 2021, Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda conducted a half day planning meeting with the heads of thematic working action groups held at the Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda offices. The objective of the meeting was to provide a platform of sharing experiences on the impact of COVID-19 and election period on the work of WHRDs, reflecting on the responsibilities of thematic heads and discuss strategies of mobilizing WHRDs of thematic action working groups.

Meeting with heads of thematic action working groups
                                                     Meeting with heads of thematic action working groups

Ms. Brenda Kugonza appreciated WHRDs for continuing denouncing human rights violations in the face of the difficult times of COVID-19 and concluded elections ‘‘during these times we continued to denounce human rights violations“ she said. She emphasized that WHRDs are advocates of justice and equality.

The WHRDN-U received cases of human rights violation from all thematic action working groups of different regions, WHRDN-U managed to offer support and protection for the safety of the WHRDs whose lives were in danger, one of the serious cases received at the secretariat was acid attack in Gomba, WHRD was a Vitim of Acid attacks her face was disfiguring due to her work of defending rights.

“We face challenges with our male counterparts, the LBQ women are attacked for their identity and how they want to dress” Jay Abang said.

WHRD-U is gradually building its capacity to provide different kinds of support that help to guarantee protection of WHRDs by sharing support offered by WHRD-U to WHRDs, WHRDN-U supported the HOIMA coordinator of Women Living with HIV with legal support –when RDC, summoned her for distributing food to sex workers and thus spreading COVID-19.

Ms. Jenifer Baitwamasa said that referrals that WHRDN-U make are very helpful because the network follows up to ensure that people are supported”.

“When the case is not ours, we refer it and still follow up until the person has been helped” Jay Abang added.

Discussions among thematic working group heads
                                                    Discussions among thematic working group heads

WHRD-U emphasized that thematic focal persons to invite WHRDN-U staff to participate in their activities both in Kampala and upcountry-for networking, sharing best practices thematic focal persons and learning purposes.

Brenda Kugonza asked each thematic working group to identify 2 focal persons per thematic field of work during jointly meeting with thematic focal persons between April and May 2021 and to involve thematic focal persons in WHRDN-U activity implementation or interventions (up- country field trips, policy & advocacy).

Heads of thematic groups shared concerns and problems in supporting WHRDs at risk, this resulted in to general recommendations for members of WHRDN-U which encouraged a safer and a more supportive environment for WHRDs and for effective response to needs of WHRDs.

 

 

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2020

International Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2020 Commemoration in Uganda

On the 27th November 2020, a group of Women Human Rights Defenders convened at the Alliance Of Women Advocating for Change offices to commemorate the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders that is celebrated on 29th November every year. The theme for this years commemoration was “In the uncertain times of COVID-19: WHRDN-U calls for the recognition of the essential work of Women Human Rights Defenders.”

Brenda Kugonza speaks at the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2020
Brenda Kugonza speaks at the International Women Human Rights Defenders Day 2020

Message From Harriet Lamunu from UWOPA

Mary Lamunu, the coordinator of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association spoke about the importance of adding a gender lens to the Human Rights Defenders Bill 2020.

 

Key Messages from Women Human Rights Defenders

Some of the key messages shared by Women Human Rights Defenders as they commemorated the International Women Human Rights Day

 

Remarks from Eve Acan, Programs Manager AWAC Uganda


 

Oxfam and UWONET Launch Campaign Against Violence of Women and Girls in Uganda

On 5th November 2020, Oxfam Uganda and Uganda Women’s Network launched the “Enough” campaign at Mestil Hotel aiming to put at  an end to the violence against women and girls in Uganda. Rita Aciro, the Executive Director of UWONET during her opening remarks, emphasized the importance of having a society that respects women and girls.

Rose Aciro speaks at the launch of the Enough Campaign
Rose Aciro speaks at the launch of the Enough Campaign

Under the #FlipTheSriptUG hashtag conversation around violence and torture of women was discussed as many organizations and people addressed the avenues through which this can be combatted. The Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda was proud to witness this launch and was represented by Brenda Kugonza (Executive Director), Margaret Kulaba (Chairperson) and Jane Ssenyange (Assistant Protection and Rapid Response Officer)

Listen to Brenda Kugonza speak after the launch of the Enough Campaign

Honourable Winnie Kizza called for more dialogue on violence against women by Presidential candidates as they traverse the country campaign for votes in the upcoming 2021 Presidential elections.

Listen to “Bakimanye” the official “Enough” campaign soundtrack

A virtual reality tour of the launch of the “Enough Campaign” at Mestil Hotel.

Watch the video below of the Launch of the Enough Campaign.

 

Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda group photo

Wellness And Self Care Healing For Women Human Rights Defenders In Uganda

The Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda, with support from Urgent Action Fund For Africa organised a  4 (four) day Self Care, Wellbeing and Collective Healing Capacity building Workshop for two groups of Women Human Rights Defenders Thematic Action groups. The first workshop comprising of representatives of the thematic working groups run from August 11th-12th 2020, and the second group comprised of regional focal persons, run from 13th-14th August 2020 at Eureka Place Hotel Ntinda.

Self Care and Collective Healing

The workshop was aimed at creating a relaxed and soothing environment where Women Human Rights Defenders would focus on their well being and come together to collectively heal from all the trauma and stress that comes along with their work.

Women HRDs read Self Healing and Wellness messages
Women HRDs read Self Healing and Wellness messages

 

Messages of encouragement, self belief and self love were re-echoed by the Women Human Rights Defenders to collectively heal together as they talked about dealing with trauma. It is important to heal one self before helping others, is what they unanimously agreed to while listening to each others stories.

 

 

 

Reproductive Health

Dr Linda Birungi, a gynecologist from Reproductive Health Uganda led sessions discussing sexual reproduction, family planning and best health practices. Health risks and dangers like cervical and breast cancer were discussed at length to ensure Women Human Rights defenders seek treatment and help before developing complications while working.

Wellness and Healing

Mildred Apenyo, a woman’s rights activist and C.E.O of Flitclique Africa , an organization empowering and creating safe spaces for women, conducted therapy and relaxation sessions with Women HRDs to release fatigue from their bodies. Candles, ornaments, yoga and exercises were some of the tools and routines they were taken through as part of their healing.

Massage

A masseuse was also invited to massage and sooth body muscles to release any kind of stress and fatigue on the body. A healthy body is a healthy mind, so it is important for Women Human Rights Defenders to have healthy bodies to continue with their work without difficulty.

Practical Self Care & Mutual Support

The workshop was concluded by officially launching a new culture of activism that is rooted in Practical Self-Care and mutual support as a necessary condition of Women’s movement in Uganda.

Launch of a new culture of activism that is rooted in Practical Self-Care and mutual support as a necessary condition of Women's movement in Uganda.
Launch of a new culture of activism that is rooted in Practical Self-Care and mutual support as a necessary condition of Women’s movement in Uganda.

 

Championing A Gender Responsive Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill 2020

On August 13th 2020, Defenders Protection Initiative held a Consultative meeting at Skyz Hotel on the proposed Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill. The mover of the bill Hon. Komakech Lyandro in his opening remarks emphasized the the law will consolidate the struggle Women Human Rights Defenders go through and create an enabling environment for women to flourish.


Brenda Kugonza, the Executive Director of the Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda, presented a position paper by Women Human Rights Defenders on the need and relevance of a gender perspective in the Human Rights Defenders Protection bill. “Women’s unique issues and concerns while protecting rights of others should be put into full consideration as the bill is drafted.”

Brenda Kugonza delivers a position paper on the Human Rights Defenders protection Bill 2020
Brenda Kugonza delivers a position paper on the Human Rights Defenders protection Bill 2020

Rights of all individuals should be respected and reflected in the bill to ensure equal leveled ground while carrying out work. Women Human Rights Defenders across all regions from the country gave accounts of the different violations and threats they face while working.

John Tamale Mirundi, a Senior legislative council and drafter of the bill committed to ensuring all gender aspects are catered for in the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill 2020.


 

Ensuring a Gender Responsive Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill

On July 30th 2020, Brenda Kugonza the Executive Director of Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda, together with the Assistant Protection and Rapid Response Manager, Jane Sssenyange met with Hon Lucy Akello, Hon Jovah Kamatek and Mary Harriet Lamunu, program coordinator from Uganda Women Parliament Association to discuss the proposed Human Rights Defenders protection bill and how it can be gender responsive.

Discussing a Gender Responsive Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill

It is important to WHRDN-U that Women Human Rights Defenders are well represented in this bill, and this was central to the discussions held. Hon Lucy Akello, who sits on the Human Rights Parliamentary committee welcomed the idea of ensuring women’s voices and rights are well respected in drafting the bill.

Mary Lamunu, welcomed the timely intervention and discussion and emphasized the need for WHRDs issues to be well laid out in the bill. The discussion held resulted in the members agreeing to champion this cause going forward in Parliament.

The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Work Of Women Human Rights Defenders In Uganda

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many sectors and notably too, the work of Women Human Rights Defenders in Uganda.  Brenda Kugonza, the Executive Director of Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda, with other members of the network analyzed the effect the pandemic has had on WHRDs in a 2 page feature in the Daily Monitor. Read full article here.

Covid-19 in the eyes of women human rights defenders

Analyzing The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Work Of Women Human Rights Defenders In Uganda
Analyzing The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Work Of Women Human Rights Defenders In Uganda