By Candia Stephen
Kampala-Various stakeholders in the great lakes region of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and South Sudan have pledged commitment to end gender based violence- GBV by 2020.
The commitment pact was reached at on Friday during a round-table dialogue on 16 days activism organized by Care International at Imperial Royale Hotel.
The dialogue, under the theme ‘leaving no one behind’ also brought in to the lime light the tale of refugee women and girls, peace and security in the context of GBV and the effectiveness of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) and the Kampala Declaration 2017.
Delphine Pinault Care Uganda Country Director expressed concern over the state of GBV in the great lakes region saying Sexual Gender Based Violence continues to be rampant and called for lasting solutions to end the vice.
“Our body as women continues to be a battle ground in many Countries and this is unacceptable,” Pinault said.
Nathan Byamukama from International Conference on Great Lakes Region-ICGLR training center Kampala, referring to the existing volatile situations in Burundi, DRC and South Sudan, stressed the need to involve women in peace negotiations and establishment of funds to support victims of GBV.
Nathan added that there is need for ratification of the frame work in place so as to promote political accountability and women’s right advocacy and budgetary allocation for National Action Plan (NAP) on UNSCR 1325.
According to the CSO findings on NAP 2017, women peace and security issues among refugees, women and girls remain a big challenge, worsened by poor governance, armed conflicts, marginalization of women among others.
Olive Uwamariya of Care Rwanda says her Country continues to face huge challenge of teenage pregnancy especially among the 88,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees currently seeking safety in the Country.
She notes that low local participation by women in politics, private sector, high rates of domestic violence, lack of integration of NAP into existing national and local plans and suppression of mechanisms to hold the government accountable continue to remain a big challenge for CSOs.
Meanwhile Ninon Ndayikengurukiye, Advocacy and Communications Advisor for Care-Burundi says of the 220,000 Burundian refugees living in Tanzania, three quarters of them are women, which portrays a bigger manifestation of GBV.
Few women in leadership positions, contradicting articles in the penal code and denial of equal rights for women and men remain some of the barriers to full empowerment of women and girls in the Country.
However Rose Vive Labo, Care program coordinator Goma and gender focal person DRC says much as there has been increase in the roles of women, rates of domestic violence still remain high in the country.
According to Vive in 2011, Care DR Congo was able to adopt 1325 UNSCR and also identified 21 discriminatory norms against women and girls and this year the minimum age of marriage was raised to 18 from 15, all in an effort to fight GBV.
Care report on experience of refugee women and girls in Busia and Imvepi settlement camps in Uganda shows that there is wide spread gender in equality, abduction of women and girls as sex and reproductive slaves, rape among others are some of the key challenges that need to be managed.
The great lakes region stakeholders also resolved among other issues to lobby for national budget allocations, conduct regional meetings to draw governments attention and demand for operationalization of laws and policies to end gender based violence by 2020.