The second edition of the National Civil Society Fair took place from May 31- to June 2012, at Hotel Africana, Kampala under the theme Act together: Shape the Future of CSOs in Uganda at 50 years. This year in October, Uganda will be celebrating 50 years of independence and the CSO Fair provided an opportunity for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Uganda to critically look at the past and reflect on the challenges and achievements gained since independence. The Fair was organized by the Uganda National NGO Forum, an umbrella that brings together Non- Governmental Organizations in the country. It was a fully packed event with myriad activities, which ranged from exhibitions, Music, Dance and Drama presentations, plenary sessions and panel discussions on different topics, as well as the CSO Cinema.
During the Fair, Isis-WICCE exhibited several materials on women, peace and security, and conducted a parallel session on Uganda @ 50 years of Independence: Are women Peaceful? The session was officiated on by Hon Miria Matembe, a renowned Ugandan women’s rights activist and former minister for Ethnics and Integrity. She launched Isis-WICCE’s two policy briefs on Peace for Human Security and Healthy Bodies, Empowered Women. In her remarks, Hon Matembe said that sexual and gender based violence remain the highest conflict trigger in Uganda. She further mentioned that Uganda is not peaceful today because people lack basic needs. She attributed this to greedy and corrupt leaders with incredible crave for power that has led to human devaluation.
Luweero Women’s Development Association (LUWODA), a grassroots women’s group presented a drama skit showing what peace means to women and why women are not peaceful. The skit highlighted domestic violence, rape and defilement, poor health services leading to maternal death, land grabbing and corruption as major issues of concern for women in the country that have made a lot of problems for women.
Judy Adoko from Land and Equity Movement in Uganda made a presentation on the land tenure systems in Uganda and how they affect women in terms of land ownership. This presentation mainly highlighted that Uganda has four land tenure systems: Customary with 80% of land, Leasehold, Mailo and Freehold.
According to customary land tenure system, the land belongs to the clan and it is managed by the head of the family who is a married man. This means that a woman and her children cannot own. In case of the death of a head of family, it’s the uncles (married men) who take over the management and administration of the clan land. Because of this, many women, widows and orphans have been rendered landless. The situation is worse in Northern Uganda where many people were displaced from their ancestral land and the major victims are women and children.
Judy further noted that land grabbing has greed and power dimensions. The power dimensions include physical, political, education and cultural.
She pointed out the contradiction between the clan and the state land laws and called for the harmonization of the two by making the clan courts the first court with an appeal to the Magistrate court. She also proposed for the revision of the land policy to recognize the customary tenure system in its own right and its management to hold clans accountable. On the issue of the land demarcation, the land policy should recognize and protect boundaries with agreed trees and sketch maps.
Participants brainstormed on the definition of peace and to many; peace means love, happiness , freedom, development and getting all the basic needs of life. From a young girl’s perspective, peace means going to school without being disturbed by boys and teachers and not forced out of school.