On 19th May 2022, Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda organised a regional cordination meeting for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Albertine region in Hoima district. The meeting held at Hoima Resort hotel consisted of 22 WHRDS from Hoima (6), Masindi(5), Bullisa (6), Kagadi(2), Kiryandongo (1). This meeting was held in line with the efforts of WHRDN-U to achieve a well-coordinated national feminist Holistic protection program and a secure working environment for WHRDs in Uganda.
Objectives of the meeting were to
To strengthen local support systems to offer timely response to WHRDs under attack in West Nile Region.
To offer a training on how to fill the case incidence form
To understand why one is unable to receive support whenever attacked
Ms Beatrice Rukanyanga the district focal person welcomed everyone to the meeting and told all the participants to share and interact freely and made an emphasis that, “Human rights activism work is given from God and it’s in our Blood despite the fact that defenders are attacked every day, we still continue to defend Human rights. Individually we cannot stand but when we work as a team it’s hard for the community to attack and pin us down, we have to work as a team and support one another” She further encouraged members to carry out solidarity visits among themselves.
Remarks from Gender Officer, Ms Kabatalya Joyce
Kabatalya Joyce thanked the WHRDS for the good work they were doing in their different communities.She said there are very many cases of violation of human rights at grass root levels and was glad to see a group of brave women who are risking their lives to defend the rights of such people, she encouraged the WHRDS to continue with this good work and re-assured her support whenever needed. “I am ready and willing to work with you, the different government institution have to work with you and you with them so that to make a big impact in the community”
Poster presentation and dissemination of the online GBV handbook for WHRDS.
Posters were distributed to members and each one was tasked to pin them in their work places to help create visibility of the network.
By conclusion of the meeting, participants knew the different ways of strengthening the local support system in case of attacks, shared action points on how they would support one other and also learnt how to fill in the incidence forms.
On 2nd May 2022, 22 Women Human Rights Defenders from the Acholi Women Human Rights Defenders Regional Network met with Gulu City Woman MP, Hon Aol Betty Achan at her community office in Gulu City. The WHRDs who came from Gulu, Kitgum, Omoro, Pader, Nwoya, Lamwo and Amuru districts.
Adubo Diana, one of the WHRDs in the region took lead in this session outlined the various Gender based threats and intimidation they face that in their work of of GBV, land rights, promotion of rights for persons with disabilities, journalists, children, LBQT, sex work. She outlined these Gender specific attacks that include;
Instead of producing children, you are busy loitering, stop messing up your life as a woman
Gender discrimination. People don’t want to associate with you in the community.
No wonder you are single, which man can stay with a loud woman like you. Women are supposed to soft spoken always.
I cannot marry a woman like you. You are like a fellow man. Women like you are not marriage material.
Baby hater(If advocating for family planning and safe abortion)
Exclusion from clan land ownership committees.
The meeting offered a great opportunity in establishing a working relationship with the MP and the Acholi WHRDs requested the MP to create a platform to engage the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee and her office act as a referral point to WHRDS to report violations they encounter.
In her speech, MP Aol Betty appreciated the WHRDs for their activism and support they offer in upholding human rights especially of all people regardless of gender, age and occupation. She also committed to create a platform to discuss their issues with the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee, the Gender Parliamentary Committee and the Speaker of Parliament.
The Acholi WHRDs also handed over a position paper and Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill to the MP.