Another inspirational story of one of our very own! In this alumni of the month feature we bring you a story of one very charming and courageous Ugandan woman who has beaten various odds of life but refuses to be silenced and has ventured to speak for women’s peace and security.
Who is Lina?
Born in 1961 to Magdalene and Karlo Abuku Lina was the third last and only girl. Which also was the case as she was still the only girl in her class at PLE and emerging the best, she went to Sacred Heart Girls Secondary School Gulu. She married in 1982, and is mother to 8 children. Currently the Director Women Peace and Security (RACI), Lina has served in various capacities right from being a teacher to Magistrate. She is a very ardent advocate of UN SCR 1325 on Women Peace and Security, a passion that has driven her into becoming an International; Trainer of Trainers, Mediator, Mobilizer, Strategist, and Mentor.
Since the disappearance of husband, an opposition politician 12 years ago ( August 2001), she is the sole parent to five children plus three she adopted. She went from being a magistrate to a war widow but she refuses to be called a “victim.” And says “We are the stakeholders. Nothing about us without us.”
An experienced leader in peace and conflict resolution matters; Lina has been the Director of Women Peace and Security Program aimed at empowering women for durable peace and reconciliation since 2011. With one of her distinguished experiences being the staging of a media and grassroots campaign to get women into the negotiations for the Juba Peace Talks leading to a four-day march into areas of war and rape, and then flying into Juba where she delivered a peace torch to the Chief Mediator in the LRA /Gov of Uganda, H.E Dr. Riek Machar. She has consulted widely both nationally and internationally including consultation for the ICAN/MIT carried in a report “What the Women Say on UN SCR” http://www.icanpeacework.org/unscr1325caseassessment/2010. She recently participated in high panel presentation at the UN SCR New York among which she was on a panel with Mary Robinson the UN SC Secretary Generals Representative on the ICGLR Frame work of Hope aimed at bringing peace in the DRC.
In 2005 while serving as the Program Adviser to Northern Uganda Peace Initiatives, she designed the Women in Peace Building and Reconciliation Program, which included bringing together 300 internally displaced women and other Northern Ugandans to advance peace in the region. And prior to that she was Associate Director of the Center for Conflict Management and Peace Studies at Gulu University, where she coordinated community outreach programs, led research, and helped develop a post-graduate diploma in conflict management and peace studies.
She holds a master’s degree in human rights, a law degree, and a certificate of laws from Makerere University. She is a member of numerous professional associations, including the Network of African Peace Builders, the African Judicial Network
Sharing her AWLI Experience
I remember very vividly the application process in 2006; I was actually given an exception rule under the age bracket. I was working in Northern Uganda then, the whole process of the AWLI was a complete turn of events and my life’s journey just re-started. I got to put on a certain unique lense of being a driver of my destiny, something within me that has closed in on me just gave way from the inside, I was re-newed; re-born. Being very much older among the participants was a blessing to me, the Africa wide experience of women’s issues from exclusion, to being targeted as battle fields with rape and yet we continue to keep together the social fabriq.
I was determined to embrace this challenge and start an initiative that would not add women but target them as primary stakeholders, it had to be grassroots, peace and security of the person premised on the adage that Prof Sylvia Tamale had shared “The Personal is Political” Hence I set to create a community of practice where women were not considered victims but critical stakeholders and where sustainable peace ultimately rests on their full participation at all negotiation tables and implementation of outcomes of such negotiations be it Peace Negotiations, Commercial negotiations, family name it. Secondly I had not come to meet any woman mediator so I was convinced that we needed to have women mediators.
For me the unique aspects of the AWLI were the selection of the participants who were practicing women’s rights defenders, social entrepreneurs, who had all personal experiences that were so enriching. Secondly the mode of delivery of the training was centered on experiential learning, the blatant honesty;
We created a network across the Continent that was visionary we went out as determined agents of change armed with the “tools” and confidence. The AWLI helped to determine one thing I could die for, or work for no pay and yet get full satisfaction and then conceived RACI, planned how it would operate, target groups especially how we would invade the peace process in Juba.
Lina shares a light moment with Mary Robinson
Lina during one of the outreach community activities
Her advice for sustained Advocacy of issues affecting women
We should move from organizing “events” to creating a community of practice that is socially active and politically literate grounded from the grassroots to the grass tops.
A glance into her next 10 years
Lina aspires to become an Icon of Women Peace and Security influencing decisions at the AU, UN SC and preparing to retire from active activism as there will be younger advocates in place at all levels
Long after we are gone…
She wants to be remembered for “UN SCR 1325 on Women Peace and Security Monger, Advocate, Defender”