Gender equality | Uganda

Putting an end to gender-based violence in Uganda

Action Against Hunger's Camille Guyot-Bender explains how we support groups of women to bring an end to the inequalities that exist within their homes

By Action Against Hunger

Feb 6 2014

Northern Uganda has suffered from civil unrest since the early 1990s in what is known as one of  Africa’s longest running conflicts, caused by the notorious rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which aims to overthrow the current government. Due to the extreme forms of violence the rebels use, especially gender-based violence (GBV), as a weapon against women and children, 1.5 million people have been displaced over the course of the last two decades.
 
Since 2006 the region has enjoyed relative stability and security, with the majority of local communities returning back to their home villages. However, gender-based violence  has become an accepted norm in many communities and households. To support the recovery process and help heal the trauma women have suffered, Action Against Hunger, through the financial support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, has been tackling the issue by assisting women in forming groups focused on bringing an end to the inequalities that exist within their homes.
 
The Kingdom of Norway in its cooperation initiatives around the world is committed to partnerships and funding development programmes meant to mitigate gender inequalities as well as gender based violence and contributing to a reduction in imbalances against women. This programme is one of the several intervention areas by the Royal Norwegian Embassy cooperation in Uganda.

Ribe Kelo Kuc’s Story

One of the women’s groups formed in February 2012 is called Ribe Kelo Kuc (or “Unity” in the local language), and is based in Bwobonam village. According to a report from the local administration, about 83 per cent of women in the community experience varied degrees of violence against them, including physical abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, and denial of property rights and inheritance.
 
“After decades of extreme violence against women and children by the rebel groups, GBV has become an accepted norm in the communities and within households, leaving women to feel humiliated and stigmatized to disclose any information. Instead they resort to suffering in silence," said Obita Michael, the local chairperson of the Ribe Kelo Kuc Group.
 
The women’s group has gone through various training sessions as a means of building their confidence and earning recognition within their communities. Furthermore, the group was provided with intensive gender-based violence awareness training specific to the local context, including the legal system and other institutions that can provide support. We supported the group by developing Behavior Change Communication materials that guided the group activities in the community and were later introduced to the local leadership, health centers, police, and judiciary in order to get the entire community on board.
 
Oyella Nighty, who is the leader of the group, recounted that most members suffered violence at some point in their lives, either by the rebels during the insurgency or later in the form of domestic violence by their partners. She said that with the support from us and from local leadership, women are now becoming bold enough to condemn any act of violence and take it seriously through legal measures.
 
Adoch Agnes, a community member participating in the programme, said: “My husband was heavily drinking everyday and our marriage was at stake, as were the lives of my children. When he was running out of money, he would then attempt to sell our household property to buy alcohol. If I tried to stop him, he would beat me violently. Several times, I had to run away from the house in fear. When I shared my experience with the women’s group, they took me and my husband through several counseling sessions including weekly visits to check on our progress. The group’s intervention saved my family, and I thank them for reaching out to me."
 
Since its establishment two years ago, the group has resolved 80 cases of disagreement at the household level. With your help, we can continue to provide support to these women and end gender-based violence in the region once and for all.

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Photo credits:  © Tine Frank

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