Women Human Rights Defenders Network Uganda (WHRDN-U) held a workshop on 13th/01/2022 at Arch Apartments in Kampala for 15 female youth defenders from across four regions of Uganda to discuss the threats and attacks against their work.

The workshop aimed at raising the visibility on violations faced by female youth defenders, share best practices for the protection and encouraging solidarity among female youth HRDs.

The workshop kicked off with a session titled “the River Of  Life” by Bonita Asingwire from WHRDN-U who enabled female youth defenders to understand the life of being a defender, While facilitating, she explained different ways how a river flows. “The river flows smoothly, at times it is so bubbly and passionate with a lot energy, sometimes it lacks away through hitting huddles, but it finally finds a way.” She further asked participants to relate their journey as women human rights defenders to that of a river.

Bonita Asingwire leads a session on the River Of Life.

Ms. Asubazuyo Gertrude led a session on the risks and attacks faced by female youth defenders. She mentioned the unique challenges female youth defenders face such as age-based discrimination, intimidation, torture, arbitrary arrest, beatings, restrictions on freedom of expression and association, accused of planning to disrupt public order and posing a threat to national security. She added that female youths are always told that they lack maturity, seen as trouble makers, and limited to engage in debates.

Gertrude added that besides age and gender discrimination, female youth defenders face additional risks such as non-recognition, marginalization and systematic exclusion, public shaming, sexuality baiting, online harassment, private spheres against by family members and loved ones among others. Brenda emphasized that although they face these risks, there is a need always to speak out so that people can understand challenges they face in order to be protected.

Asubazuyo Gertrude facilitating on risks and attacks face by female youth defenders during the workshop.

Biira also shared that youth defenders are not given the same access to resources, knowledge and technologies as older human rights defenders. Funding is often inaccessible, as most female youths do not have the track records and organizational structures required by funders.

Rosemary Kyemba, a female defender from Jinja was threatened to be killed by the perpetrator when she followed up a case of a girl who was raped in Jinja.

Ms. Nakku Mariam (on the left) and Ms. Kyemba Rosemary (on the right) sharing how they have faced risks against their work.

Selfcare and wellness  were not left out during the workshop. Gertrude led participants into the 30 days selfcare challenge that involved what female youth defenders must do to get relief and enjoy their activism work. She emphasized the importance of selfcare saying that, human rights work is challenging and many defenders have continued to work in a trauma-based environment, facing violence, and fatigue. She encouraged them to take on this challenge in order get relief for stress that is likely to come along with activism work.

Gertrude Asubazuyo taking participants through a 30 days selfcare challenge

Bonita Asingwire showed participants how to document and report violence cases so are able to report and seek support in case of attacks. She called upon female youths to report violence cases and encouraged them to take the incident form at home and use their fellow female youth defenders under attacks to fill it in the form.

The workshop ended with female youth defenders sharing their lessons learnt with the secretariat as most of them learnt how to document and report cases, the types on violence they face and the importance of selfcare in their work. Youths also committed to recommend at least two members to the secretariat and reach out to fellow youth defenders in case they are attacked.

Participants sharing the lessons learned from the workshop.