Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Kampala, 27th June 2016 – Under the auspices of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Civil Society Regional Forum Uganda Chapter Chair Akina Mama wa Afrika in partnership with Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa launched a Hand book that seeks to contribute to strengthened partnership between civil society in the Great Lakes region with those of sub-regional intergovernmental organisation such as the ICGLR. 

In the years prior to the establishment of this intergovernmental organisation, eight out of the eleven ICGLR countries experienced violent conflicts. All of these conflicts had regional implications and linkages that contributed to the destabilization of neighbouring countries and the region as a whole. By creating the ICGLR, governments of the region recognized that political instability and conflicts in their respective countries have a considerable regional dimension and thus require a regional response.

The ICGLR was established under the principles of ownership and inclusiveness by all the member state governments and other stakeholders, including official forums that represent different stakeholders. These include the Parliamentary Forum, Regional Youth Forum, Regional Women Forum, Private Sector Forum and the Civil Society Forum. This focus on people, participation through regional forums for civil society and emphasis on providing regional solutions to national problems and vice versa, also marks the 21st century character of the organisation.

“We are convinced that multilateral organizations must become more responsive to the needs and concerns of the population of their member states and that civil society from those countries must seek to establish productive relationships with those organisations. This will not only enhance a sense of ownership of these institutions by the people but will also help them meet their purpose, making them more effective in their efforts to prevent violent conflicts and foster more peaceful, stable, inclusive and prosperous societies” said the Executive Director of Nairobi Peace Initiative- Africa, Walter Odhiambo

The CSO Handbook provides practical information about the structure of this multilateral body and its decision making process and cycles. It highlights the importance of engaging with the ICGLR and indicates different spaces in which people from the region can participate to develop policies and actions and jointly strengthen the organization in the prevention and management of armed conflicts. 

“As we discuss today, we all know what is happening in Burundi in the aftermath of a controversial election. We all remember the genocide in Rwanda, the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, how the Democratic Republic has been ravaged from the inside and outside, and the thousands of refugees both in this region and those trying to leave this continent for other regions only to encounter in some instances a worse fate. We know of other Presidential elections coming up, other constitutions which should not be changed, the lack of democratic institutions, all these challenges require concerted efforts of Government and Civil Society to bring peace, security and development in the great lakes region” said Eunice Musiime the Executive Director of Akina Mama wa Afrika.

Therefore the launch of this handbook is timely and it will be a resourceful tool for ICGLR Civil Society, sub-regional intergovernmental organizations and other actors as we collectively work to secure sustainable peace and development in the region.

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For More Information Contact Irene Kagoya on +256 775110881/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

25 May 2016

Today, the International Conference Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) National Civil Society Forum of Uganda, under the leadership of Akina Mama wa Afrika supported by Amplify Change, are gathered in Kampala for a 3 day advocacy workshop on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). The workshop is aimed at strengthening the capacities of Ugandan civil society to encourage the effective the implementation of the Kampala Declaration and other related instruments on Sexual Gender Based Violence.

 

Recognising the prevalence and devastating impact of SGBV in the Great Lakes Region, the Heads of State and Government of Member States of the ICGLR held a special session on SGBV in 2011 at the Fourth Ordinary Summit, culminating in the signing of the Kampala Declaration. The same year, the ICGLR also launched the Zero Tolerance Campaign on SGBV, sending a strong message of governments’ commitment to end all forms of SGBV and promote human rights in the Great Lakes Region.

 

Yet, despite these commitments and the continued ratification of various international and regional instruments, SGBV continues to be perpetuated with impunity in the region as conflicts and generalized insecurity continues to fuel human rights abuses. Whilst patterns of SGBV cut across all countries in the Great Lakes Region, with for example, Uganda’s Police Crime Report, 2010 showing that 8645 cases of rape and other sexual violence were reported, the situation is even worse in countries affected by armed conflicts like Democratic Republic of Congo, where UN Secretary General report to the UN Security Council, indicated more than 1,100 women and girls being raped per month in Eastern regions alone, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and more recently in Burundi.

 

In a bid to accelerate the implementation of the Kampala Declaration and bring its spirit to life, CSOs are calling on governments of the Great Lakes Region and Uganda in particular to:

  1. Increase budget allocation to the one stop centres and to ensure that they comprehensively support survivors of SGBV
  2. Strengthen the partnerships between government, CSOs and other actors including the private sector to collectively address SGBV in the Great Lakes Region
  3. Launch and implement the zero tolerance campaign on SGBV in all members states
  4. Provide assistance to the survivors of SGBV by liberating and rehabilitating them from trauma and providing conditions favourable for the reconstruction of their lives
  5. End the impunity and bring to book the perpetrators of SGBV

 

For further information, please contact:

Irene Kagoya - Akina Mama wa Afrika: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +256 775110881

 With support from the Common Wealth Foundation,  Akina Mama wa Afrika embarked on a 3 year project under the theme,Contributing to building a vibrant women’s movement advocating for women’s land rights in the new wave of land acquisition in Zambia, Namibia and Swaziland”. The project which was launched in Zambia, has so far trained a total of 33 women from Zambia (15) and Swaziland (18) in feminist research, advocacy and movement building. The recently concluded training held on 11th -14th of May 2016 at the George Hotel, Manzini in Swaziland was critical for Swaziland women as it re-awakened the need secure women’s land rights. Key among the outcomes of the meeting was the formation of a women’s land alliance that is aimed at mobilize women groups and collective advocate for women’s land rights with unified voice

While the ownership of resources is a key driver of empowerment, there are many African women whose property rights are denied. The violation of women’s property rights is largely fueled by patriarchy which perpetuates the subordination of women and renders women powerless in a male dominated society.Land ownership and access is confused with headship which is communicated as strictly a male preserve. The means of acquiring land being cattle and money are generally viewed as more of men’s then women’s terrain.” Doo Aphane, Women for Women

Swaziland is one of the many African countries that have adopted and ratified international and regional instruments stipulating the equality between men and women such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women1979 (25th April 2004.) ratified without reservation, AU Women’s Protocol in 2012, SADC Gender and Development Protocol ratified in September,2012 and adopted a constitution with provisions that clearly spell out the rights of women and a national gender policy of 2010.

Despite the existence of the above laws and policies, women’s land rights are still violated in Swaziland. There has been a failure to implement laws and policies on women’s property rights especially in as far as women’s land rights are concerned, there are outstanding Bills such as the Administration of Estates Bill and Marriage Bill which if adopted into law would have a bearing on women’s land rights, but these are yet to be made into law. These coupled with presence of a dual legal system of Roman –Dutch Law and customary law, which has not been reconciled in many facets and emergency of large scale land acquisitions for commercialized farming in Swaziland further threatens women’s land rights.

As discussions ensued, participants cited other barriers to women’s land rights that included; customary laws, norms and practices, lack of and /or limited knowledge on land rights, and lack of collective action challenging government to implement laws and policies that could foster women’s land rights. “I was asked to bring my husband, a brother, or a son to register land in my names”. Mabuza Bongiwe, Municipal Council of Mbanane Important to note also was the link drawn between women’s bodily integrity and power dynamics on women’s property rights.

Although there have been individual actions undertaken against the violation of women’s land rights such as the High court case of; Mary-Joyce Doo Aphane v. Registrar wherein Aphane challenged the validity of S16 (3) of the Deeds Registry Act in view of Section 20 and 28 of the Constitution these actions have not been sufficient enough to transform women property rights thus calling for more action.

Demonstrating their solidarity and commitment through songs participants collectively developed a political agenda geared towards ensuring government domesticates laws and policies to enable women access, own and control land. In addition an action plan was developed encompassing activities on conducting a baseline survey on women land rights, documentation of women’s lived realities, development of IEC materials on women land rights for awareness campaigns, and engagement in advocacy initiatives among others. Women being deprived the right to own land also deprives them of the economy. Zethu

Although the formation of a movement on women’s land rights is not going to be an easy road for the women of Swaziland especially at a time when the public order management bill is underway the women were determined to push for the realisation of women’s land rights. As the saying goes where there is a will there is a way, we trust that with commitment from the Swaziland women, support from AMwA, and other partners, Swaziland women will be able to realise and enjoy their land rights.

Participants engage in a group exercise during the training May 2016
Participants engage in a group exercise during the training May 2016

Where will you be when…

We engage every woman on land rights

We question land issues fearlessly

We defend our birth rights on land dissemination

We own and use land without barriers…

Extracted from a Poem by Nelisiwe .N.