On Friday 2nd September 2016, four consortium partners, Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD), Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP) Young Women Leadership Institute (YWLI) launched the TuWezeshe Akina Dada Afrika/UK Project. TuWezeshe is a three year project funded by Comic Relief, as part of the Common Ground Initiative (CGI) co- funded by Department of International Development (DFID) to deliver a women and girls rights programme in five countries; United Kingdom, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Somaliland.
The project is aimed at tackling Gender Based Violence (GBV) targeting actions in the UK and in East Africa as well as strengthening links between UK-based African Diaspora and women in Africa across the generations using effective and innovative approaches. It will provide a combination of convening, capacity building support, leadership development and use of technology for social change, all with the aim of supporting improvements in the voice, profile and leadership of young women in Africa and the UK Diaspora.
The launch attracted representatives from Government, Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations, and media Mr. Cornelius Magara who presided over the launch on behalf of Hon Janet Mukwaya the Minister for Gender and Social Development in Uganda observed that despite major strides that have been made towards ending violence against women and girls, a lot remains to be done. He cited the numerous laws that the Government of Uganda has passed such as the; The Domestic Violence Act 2010 and the regulations, the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act, among others. However, he noted that implementation of the laws will require concerted efforts of all actors including civil society to end the vice.
A panel presentation drawn from key stakeholders in the sector highlighted trends, best practices and approaches that are being promoted to end violence against women. A case in point is the SASA module that Center for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) and partners have extensively used in community activism to address issues of power, women’s rights, gender and violence. This has facilitated attitude change thus fostering unlearning of negative cultural norms hence bringing about positive change in different communities where the module has been used. A young woman expert from Kenya, Ms Felister Makandi from Young Leader’s Institute (YWLI) shared the Kenyan experience where innovations such as the Gender Recovery centers are providing refugee for GBV survivors. Ms Naana Otoo-Oyortey Girls drew on the Tanzanian experience where girls can legally be married from the age of 15 with the consent of parents or guardians and girls can be married from the age of 14 with the approval of a court if they are pregnant. Across Tanzania 7% of girls are married by the age of 15 and nearly a quarter of girls aged 15-19 are pregnant or have at least one child.
FORWARD has been instrumental in supporting girls networks with leadership skills training, education on girls’ rights and sexual and reproductive health as well as providing information on access to support services such as legal help, counselling or reproductive health services. The girls’ networks are also given training on income generating activities, provided with start-up capital for resources to set up their own businesses and supported to facilitate their income generating activities. Many of the girls are now engaged in tailoring, farming or own small restaurants and are working towards financial independence; a key stepping stone to gender equality.
Mr. Nathan Bayamukama the Acting Executive Director of the Regional Training Facility(RTF) highlighted the importance of the Prevention and suppression of sexual violence as one of the protocols of International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and emphasized the need to sensitize, train and equip judicial, medical, police, military, CSOs, journalists on how to manage cases of violence as well as development of training manuals, and a standard curriculum.
Overall the launch of the TuWezeshe Akina Dada project created space for key actors to dialogue on what can be done differently to contribute to ending violence against women and girls. Critical to note was the need to raise the debate about Gender Based Violence (GBV) as a crisis which governments must address NOW!
By Caroline Mercy Asianut