UGANDA: UN Dutch Women's Representative Gathers Stories of Women War Survivors.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Eastern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding

The women's movement in Uganda last week called for the fast implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. This call comes ahead of the 10th anniversary since the world body urged governments to ensure security of women and their participation in conflict prevention and resolution.

The Ugandan women organizations met the UN Women's representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Caecilia Van Peski who was in the country for a week to gather voices of women war survivors in post conflict Uganda.

Van Peski, who visited Soroti and talked to different women's groups about their rights and needs in post conflict reconstruction, will be the sole women's representative to address the UN general assembly later this year on the status of women living in conflict and post conflict areas.

In Soroti, Van Peski met women from the Teso Women Peace Activists (TEWPA) who expressed their difficulties in resettling after years of living in IDP camps.

The women said that the marginalized state of women in the community was worsened by the insurgency and that many women continue to live in fear with low self esteem.

The women listed culture which still limits a woman's space in public life- as the biggest challenge. The issue of reproductive health has been raised as a priority for many women in post conflict communities. Many women who were raped during the wars and contracted HIV/AIDS have had a tough life because most of them have been isolated by communities and are blamed for their situation.

Other women still need reconstructive surgeries because of the fistula which they suffer as a result of gang rapes. Van Peski was also told that post war trauma has not been dealt with and this remains a major impediment to women's participation in recovery efforts.

Other issues highlighted included lack of land rights and high illiteracy levels among women.

They noted that government policies on universal primary and secondary education are not tailored to meet the needs of rural communities since the ratio of children to teachers is very high; with as many as over 100 children in a classroom taught by one teacher.

Later in Kampala at a meeting held at Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) offices, women rights activists said that granting the rights of women war survivors is still a long way to go.

During the meeting, women from local organizations in the greater north highlighted the failures of the government's post conflict interventions in addressing specific needs of women.

From Uganda, Van Peski visited Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where she was to collect more testimonies which will shape her seven minutes speech to the UN General Assembly later in October.