North and North Eastern Uganda have been affected by armed conflicts for a period of over 20 years. This came with the break down and neglect of social, economic and political structures. In response to the enormous challenges faced by these regions, the government of Uganda developed a comprehensive development plan which established the guiding principles and interventions for peace building, recovery and development. These plans were phased along a three years timeline with the PRDP1 running from 2009-2012 and PRDP2 that will now run from 2012-2015.
However the PRDP 1 plan on initiation failed to recognize that women and men experience armed conflicts differently and hence missed out on addressing the critical issues for women in post conflict settings.
To counteract this, a group of 21 women organizations led by Isis-WICCE came together and formed a Women’s Task Force (WTF) for gender responsiveness PDRP. The taskforce is composed of both national and grassroots groups, with an aim of ensuring that women’s concerns remain visible in the peace, recovery and development processes.
Since 2009, the WTF has been working tirelessly to ensure that women benefit and participate in PRDP implementation process. Through their advocacy efforts, the women taskforce were able to gain access to key government committees that support the PRDP. On each of the six PRDP structures, there has been a taskforce representative to ensure that gender equality and women’s rights concerns are included in post conflict reconstruction.
As the government of Uganda prepares to launch the PRDP phase two, Isis-WICCE organized a reflection meeting from 11-13 April 2011 in Kampala. The meeting brought together women taskforce members to reflect on the achievements and challenges encountered in implementation of the PRDP. The meeting was also to enable the WTF members strategize on how to effectively engage in implementation of the second phase of PRDP, while ensuring that women’s needs are reflected. The meeting was also attend by women members of parliament for Lira, Pader, and Lamwo districts.
In her opening remarks, Isis-WICCE Executive Director, Ruth Ochieng appreciated the efforts of the WTF, which she said greatly influenced the course and implementation of the first phase of PRDP. “It is for this reason that the UN Women recognized your work, saying that your participation made great impact on the lives of women at grassroots level, and linked the grassroots women’s aspirations to the national efforts” she declared. Ms Ochieng urged WTF members to understand the second phase of PRDP and proposed that the reports of the taskforce members should then be put together in a joint proposal to boost fundraising initiatives.
The WTF members shared the strategies they have using to influence and monitor the implementation of PRDP. These included organizing community sensitization meetings, attending budgetary and council meetings at district and sub-county levels, engaging with district administration and technical committees. The members also participated in annual PRDP review meetings and identified the gaps that would hinder effective implementation. Some of the challenges that were highlighted include gender based violence, high levels of trauma, alcoholism, low participation of women, insecurity, limited funding and poor communication.
The taskforce members reviewed the PRDP phase two and identified the gaps and opportunities for engagement in each strategic objective which are;- consolidation of state authority; rebuilding and empowering communities; revitalization of the economy ;peace building and reconciliation.
“I would never have known PRDP II, If it wasn’t for this meeting and Isis-WICCE. Thank you for organizing such meeting”. Judy Adoko, Land and Equity Movement, Uganda.
The meeting also observed that, there was lack of statistical data on the prevailing situation on the ground. The taskforce members were urged to collect statistical data to back up their arguments such as how many women have benefited, number of hospitals built and number of women accessing services, number of schools building and number of girls enrolled and retained in order to make the government accountable. One participant shared that in the recent monitoring in Lira district, there was a school which had only one girl in primary seven out of 24 pupils.
WTF members agreed to begin creating awareness of PRDP phase two to key stakeholders at different levels such as the districts, sub-counties, parishes and the community.