Is Ushs 300,000 worth a life? Story of a woman in Pader, northern Uganda

In August while conducting a research in northern Uganda on the inclusion or exclusion of women in the implementation of the Peace Recovery and Development Plan, I came a across Barbra Otuku, a very brilliant, hard-working young lady in Pader. She has a university degree and she could work in a better place but she’s passionate about her work  working with women in post conflict areas. Pader district was one of the last places that Lord’s Resistance Army rebels stayed before they forced into Sudan and DRC. In terms of development Pader is still far and most of the the areas are hard to reach. Otuku rides a bike and traverses Pader district documenting problems and concerns of women in resettled areas most of which have no hospitals, no roads, schools and water sources. She sent me this story which I just did a few edits. Pader has high rate of domestic violence and many women have lost their lives. The police is very ill-equipped. The last I visited the district didn’t have a functional vehicle so the police have to walk for miles to investigate cases. For many women in Pader, the Recovery plan is yet to address their issues and with such insecurity one can conclude we are far from implementing UNSCR 1325.

By Barbra Otuku.

Grace Akidi, a market vendor in Pader was brutally murdered by her husband Nyeko on the 22/10/2010 Friday night. David, Omony the Land lord of the deceased last saw her before she went to her the market where she worked.

Her husband Nyeko appeared at Akdi’s kiosk at 9:30 pm and walked with Akidi. Akidi’s body was later found. She had been stabbed twice in the stomach. Akidi first husband died and she was inherited by a brother-inlaw before she married Nyeko but the marriage was not going well. Grace could not persevere all the pain and burden the husband had put on her.  According to her fellow market vendors, she hoped to return back to her second husband, but when Nyeko got to know, he became very aggressive and began demanding his 350,000 shillings which he used for opening the business for her. However, Grace did not have that sum of money which might have led to her death.

Women market vendors demonstrate in Pader against the murder. Photo by Barbara Otuku

“Grace is just one of the hundreds of women in northern Uganda who lost their lives as a result of misunderstanding with spouses” says Doreen, a market vender

Despite the existence of the laws in Uganda, the death toll of murder among women is increasingly becoming very common in Pader district. This week alone, two people were murdered not on very clear reasons. This is alarming especially for women who are so much scared of their lives, they believe any time their spouses can kill them at the least quarrel and no justice served. The murderer many times walk free.

When Barbra Otuku, social worker from WORUDET interviewed the women who are vendors in Pader market about the death of their colleague said.

“The women demand that the murderer be prosecuted.”

“They demand that the market should be fenced and guards should be put in place to patrol the market area in the night. They stated that wrong dowers used the market as their hiding place in the night.”

“They strongly stated that murderers should not walk freely from prison unpunished. Justice must be done in a fair manner.” The women also want domestic violence addressed.

Uganda commemorates 1325

I am in Soroti at a Peace Exposition at the commemoration of UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security hosted by Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange.

These are pictures from the yesterday’s event and I will be writing on what has been done or not done in Uganda on UNSCR 1325 in a few days

Minister Eriya Kategaya addressed a UN Security Council debate on 26/10/10 on the implementation of the resolution and statement simply stated gender policies that were passed about a decade ago like the 1.5 points awarded to female university entrants, the affirmative action on women political representation which in no way show how issues of women and girls in post conflict Uganda are specifically being addressed.

Women call on govt during a peace march in Soroti town on the anniversary of 10 years of UNSCR. Rosebell's photo
Women during a peace march in Soroti. 29/10/10. Rosebell's photo
Women from conflict affected areas of Uganda marched in Soroti to celebrate achievements and also call on government to implement 1325. Rosebell's photo.
Soroti Woman MP Alice Alaso (C) Helen Kezie-Nwoha (L) and Ruth Ochieng of Isis-WICCE at a peace march to mark 10 years of UNSCR 1325 IN Soroti Friday 29/10/10. Photo by GK

UNSCR 1325 What has Uganda done?

UNSCR 1325 was adopted unanimously on October 31, 2000 as the first formal and legal document from the United Nations Security Council to address the unique impact of armed conflict on women.

The Resolution also moved to recognize women’s contributions to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and post conflict reconstruction. UNSCR 1325 sought to increase the number of women in decision making positions especially in areas affected by conflict.

A senior four student I met in Tibur Soroti reading out the needs of women in the post conflict area.

Uganda adopted the resolution and has gone ahead to put in place a National Action Plan in 2008 to address gender-based inequalities and violence against women.

Isis-Women International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) and its partners will hold a Peace Exposition in Soroti town from Friday 29th to Sunday 31st to commemorate 10 years of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

The Peace Recovery and Development Plan for the conflict affected districts in North and North Eastern Uganda launched last year is one way the country could address the challenges of women ranging from access to health services, justice for victims of sexual violence, promotion of women’s economic empowerment and participation in peace and recovery.

However the National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 remains largely unimplemented.

Special needs of women and girls during resettlement and post-conflict reconstruction have largely been ignored. The school dropout rate of the girl-child in most conflict torn areas remain a challenge, land rights of women continued to be denied and many women remain on the fringes of decision making process in the reconstruction programme.

Women have, with little, made strides in making progress from victims of war to community and national leaders.

This 10th anniversary comes at a time when Uganda is chairing the United Nations Security Council, and Uganda peace activists will be gathered in Soroti on the eve of the anniversary to deliberate on the achievements and challenges faced in implementing the Resolution.

The Peace Exposition in Soroti is an opportunity to involve and enable the grassroots women in Uganda to celebrate and express themselves together with their colleagues around the world on implementing Resolution 1325.

These valiant women will be able to recognise that they have contributed to a global framework and that they have the potential and resilience to continue to make change through their tireless efforts on the ground.

Isis-WICCE and its partners will hold a peace march, debates and exhibitions of stories, challenges and achievements of Ugandan women in conflict affected areas at Soroti sports grounds for three days.

Get in touch if you need details or women’s voices from the grassroots.

UPDF Soldiers Killed in Mogadishu (via Mogadishu Man)

We in Uganda have for sometime been shielded from the human cost of the Uganda mission in Somalia. We have no reporter in Mogadishu, Ugandan media houses would never afford that but today I was brought to the attention of events from Mogadishu by Mogadishu man. The Ugandan population are detached from the war because we don’t see the cost save for 7/11. I find myself at crossroads and wondering whether we should be shielded from such images of dead soldiers and if we are not  will the publication of these images spark debate in Uganda especially during this elections time on our almost one man mission in Somalia? Ugandans are always left in the dark when it comes to military ventures right from when the mission started and what exactly goes on in Somalia.

UPDF Soldiers Killed in Mogadishu Mogadishu’s streets never seem to be without a corpse or two. Whether it is the African Union peacekeepers’ bodies being dragged by children on the dusty roads of Mogadishu or bodies of insurgents or the heap of civilian corpses piled on top of one another after being struck by mortars in the Bakara market, the streets in … Read More

via Mogadishu Man

Museveni endorsed to seek re-election and what does the national broadcaster ask him in the first interview

It was this morning  between 10-11 am East African time, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) TV had a live coverage of candidate Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (not sure of the order yet as it usually changes every election to serve whatever interests I got no clue about) as he was being endorsed by the Electoral Commission to stand for the 2011 Presidential elections.

Museveni is the flag bearer for the National Resistance Movement which he has been for the last 24 years.

I watched his first interview after his endorsement on the national broadcaster. The Presenter, Jane Kasumba.

The questions (some paraphrased):

1- How do you feel about this momentous day?

2- Uganda’s economy grew at … percent last year, what to do you hope for in future?

3- What do you think of the Multiparty dispensation?

4- Do you think the Electoral Commission will do much better than in the past?

5- NRM primaries were marred with irregularities and out of that came out people who will stand as independents. What do you think?

6- Next months will be hectic viewers want to know how you will relax.

I know that its UBC and for the last election a media coverage review showed it way favored the incumbent but they can do better than this.

For a man who has led the country for the last 24 years, he’s been nominated three times before; do you still think his nomination is momentous?

And then you get to ask a presidential candidate what he hopes for our economy? Just hope? Couldn’t there be any question on what exactly he’s vision or lack of thereof is different sectors?

This general question gave Candidate Museveni a leeway to talk to a presenter that we want to get jobs for the Kasumbas. Also the president went ahead to call the presenter whom I believe was never born in the 80s, an NRM child.

Then finally Museveni went on the say once Bujagali and other dams are finished we will have double digit economic growth.

What a question about multiparty system for man whom for over a decade claimed all Ugandans belonged to the same political school of thought- the National Resistance Movement- even when he had opposition.

What would he say about multipartyism. Perhaps a question related to parties was relevant but not surely what the president thinks of Multipartyism.

On his NRM party sham of elections, the TV presenter choose to concern herself with people standing as independents rather than seek for an explanation for such massive rigging and bribery and whether the party will not bring this to the general elections.

And the explanation the president gave for the independents was that they can go back and recount the votes in their constituency and that the mess was because NRM is not as rich as the Electoral Commission.

I do understand that in the midst of political questions one is somehow supposed to bring a lighter question to the candidate but the question about viewers being concerned if he will have time to rest was the weakest.

I didn’t watch more to see if other candidates will be given the same live coverage and interview on the state broadcaster but this is how we  begin the 2011 election campaigns. And candidate Museveni recieved two cars, Ushs 20 million and four body guards for his campaigns.