Gender Issues Addressed
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Gender Issues Addressed

Because Young Girls and Women’s human rights are simply ignored and sidelined in Uganda, GWEFODE’s work is to stop the suffering and humiliation this brings, and instead ensure that women have the right to be who they are, have opinions and be able to pursue ideas and opportunities alongside men. To deliver a real difference for women, it’s vital to have a sharp understanding of the barriers to women being empowered and therefore, develop strategies on how to overcome them. GWEFODE also involves men in programs and activities because many men want a better life for women too, and see women as the key to sustainable development. Men help our projects, work and support GWEFODE financially.

Through our programs, GWEFODE works to address the Gender issues that are critical for the achievement of Gender equality and empowerment of Women and girls in areas of operation. These include Human Rights, Violence against Women, Democratic Governance, HIV / AIDS, Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts, Women and Economy

HUMAN RIGHTS

In South western Uganda, women have confronted manifold violations of their human rights and when they cannot participate in the decisions that affect their lives or claim fair political representation, when they face discrimination in employment, when they are denied entitlement to land and property, or when they suffer violence within their own home.

In rural southwestern Uganda, widowed women incur gross violation of matrimonial property and inheritance rights, often associated with stigma, discrimination and shame and also given humiliating names. In practice, widows are often dispossessed of their farmland and other assets. Eventually, many are forced to return to the homes of their parents or brothers. Some become subordinate wives of their deceased husband's brothers. Inheritance of property especially land is by men. Land is passed on from one male to another and so women are denied the opportunity to inherit land. There is need for implementation for laws that protect women during and after dissolution of marriages. The low status of widows leaves them vulnerable to violence, including Sexual and Gender Based Violence, abuse and murder.

Other obstacles to rights arise when women and girls are prevented from going to school or attaining health care, or are subject to harmful traditional practices such as labia elongation, another form of female genital mutilation (FGM). Labia elongation is a common practice of parents pulling the clitoris of their female children as a cultural practice aimed at ushering them into woman hood. When girls are 18 years and above, they are allowed to do anything they want but doing that to them while they are still children is child abuse. Labia stretching, also known as labia elongation or pulling is done for sexual enjoyment and gratification for both partners since elongated labia are perceived to facilitate orgasm and female ejaculation. In Uganda, the people of central, western and eastern regions practice labia modification. The length to which the labia is pulled varies, with the Banyankore and Batooro preferring several dangling inches while Baganda favor them protruding no more than an inch.

At the same time, governments around the world have undertaken legal human rights obligations to combat gender inequalities. The key international agreement on women's human rights is the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 1979, also described as the international bill of women's rights. Ratified by 185 UN Member States, CEDAW encompasses a global consensus on the changes that need to take place in order to realize women's human rights.

Under CEDAW, States are required to eliminate the many different forms of gender-based discrimination women confront, not only by making sure that there are no existing laws that directly discriminate women, but also by ensuring that all necessary arrangements are put in place that will allow women to actually experience equality in their lives.

GWEFODE is committed to the advancement of women's human rights and places their realization at the centre of its work in all its program areas. One of the primary ways GWEFODE works to advance women's human rights is by raising awareness about human rights and implementing CEDAW putting special emphasis on the empowerment of vulnerable and marginalized groups, such as poor or indigenous women, so that national frameworks become more inclusive of and responsive to the full range of women's rights concerns.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights in Uganda and particularly in Southwestern Uganda. It includes physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse, and it cuts across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. It takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools, the workplace and in farm fields, during conflicts and crises.

It has many manifestations including domestic and sexual violence in refugee camps. International and regional legal instruments have clarified the obligations of States to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women and girls. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) requires that countries party to the Convention take all appropriate steps to end violence. However, the continued prevalence of violence against women and girls demonstrates that this pandemic in Uganda is yet to be tackled with all the necessary political will and commitment as well as resources.

In South western Uganda, Violence against women and girls has far-reaching consequences, harming families and communities. Gender-based violence for instance not only violates human rights, but also hampers productivity, reduces human capital and undermines economic growth. GWEFODE works on several fronts towards ending violence against women and girls by tackling its main root: gender inequality. Efforts are multiplied through advocacy campaigns and partnerships with governments and the civil society. Initiatives include working to end violence against women at the grassroots level, including ending conflicts in families. GWEFODE also trains paralegals to ensure access to justice for marginalized groups, provides psychosocial and medical support to survivors of sexual and gender based violence, conducts research to collect data on violence against women and facilitates new learning on Violence against Women in South Western Uganda.

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE

GWEFODE believes that Women's political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. It facilitates women's direct engagement in public decision-making and is a means of ensuring better accountability to women. Political accountability to women begins with increasing the number of women in decision-making positions, but this is not enough. What is required are gender-sensitive governance reforms that will make all elected officials more effective at promoting gender equality in public policy and ensuring their implementation.

There has been significant progress in recent years: more and more women are seeking to transform politics itself, and women's groups are focusing on efforts to increase women's representation on the ballot to reinvigorate political accountability. In Uganda today, there are more women in government than ever before yet, around the world, gender equality in democratic governance continues to be extremely limited. GWEFODE'S research finds that many factors hinder women's political participation, such as political parties being slow to respond to women's interests, under-investment in women's campaigns, cultural barriers, and conflicting demands on the time of women candidates due to their domestic chores and social responsibilities. GWEFODE believes that Civic Education is very critical in improving the numbers of Women in positions of power and decision making.

One of the pillars of GWEFODE'S work under its Human Rights and Good Governance Program is advancing women's political participation and good governance, to ensure that decision-making processes are participatory, responsive, equitable and inclusive. Efforts are focused through strategic entry points that can advance the status of women by catalyzing wide-ranging, long-term impacts. We are also working closely with multiple stakeholders, like women's organizations, government and the private sector, to bring more women on board, train women leaders and boost women's skills to actively participate in the democratic processes.

HIV/AIDS

At a UN General Assembly Special Session in 2001, more than 180 countries agreed that gender equality and women's empowerment are fundamental to reducing girls' and women's vulnerability to HIV and AIDS. In Uganda, Women increasingly make up the majority where the epidemic has stretched the furthest and young women aged 15-24 are up to four times more likely to be HIV-positive than young men of the same age.

Gender inequality and violations of women's rights make women and girls particularly susceptible, leaving them with less control than men over their bodies and their lives. Women and girls often have less information about HIV and fewer resources to take preventive measures. They face barriers to the negotiation of safer sex, including economic dependency and unequal power relations. Sexual violence, a widespread and brutal violation of women's rights, exacerbates the risk of transmission. And while it is widely assumed that marriage provides protection from AIDS, evidence suggests that there is a high risk factor in married people than in teenagers.

In South western Uganda, HIV-positive women face stigma and exclusion, aggravated by their lack of rights. Women widowed by AIDS or found to be HIV-positive face property disputes with in-laws. And regardless of whether they themselves are HIV-positive, women generally assume the burden of home-based care for others who are sick or dying, along with the orphans left behind. The sixth Millennium Development Goal calls for reversing the spread of HIV and AIDS by 2015. To that end, more resources are needed, and strategies and programs must be targeted to women in particular. On this note, GWEFODE brings gender equality and human rights perspectives to its work on Women and HIV and AIDS, spearheading strategies that make clear links to underlying factors such as violence against women, poverty and women's limited voice in decision-making. With an emphasis on reducing discrimination, GWEFODE highlights the contributions and priorities of women living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. In Uganda, HIV-positive women could take a leading role in advocacy by forming networks that provide a strong platform for their voices to be heard. GWEFODE believes that providing technical support will enhance the leadership and participation of HIV-positive women in decision-making, and works to safeguard their rights to services, inheritance and property.

PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF CONFLICTS

Women face specific and devastating forms of gender-based violence, including widespread sexual violence and land conflicts. Conflict resolution and peace building are still an exclusive, male-dominated affair and despite the fact that women have often been the most ardent advocates of peace, they have mostly remained on the sidelines of formal peace talks and reconstruction processes.

Women's exclusion from negotiating tables and the lack of gender expertise among mediators leads to a failure to address women's concerns. In recent years, recognition has grown that women's exclusion from peace processes not only contravenes their right to participate in decisions that affect their lives, but that for a sustainable peace to take hold, women must take an equal role in shaping it. Women's perspectives and experiences are critical to stability and inclusive governance. GWEFODE's approach is to support measures to end impunity for sexual and gender-based violence and land conflicts within and amongst families. It also addresses certain conflicts through application of conflict management approaches and procedures as well as institutional reforms to ensure that police and other security services respond to women's safety needs in Uganda.

WOMEN AND ECONOMY

In Uganda, Women bear a disproportionate burden of poverty where as compared to Men are poor and at risk of hunger because of the systematic discrimination they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets. Poverty implications have been widespread for women, leaving many without even basic rights such as access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care and decent employment.

Because of Poverty, Women also have little protection from violence and have no role in decision making. Women are often paid less than men for their work and face persistent discrimination when they apply for credit for business or self-employment and are often concentrated in insecure, unsafe and low-wage work. Advancing women's economic security and rights has always been a core GWEFODE priority. GWEFODE supports women to reshape conditions at both ends of the economic spectrum from boosting women's participation in economic policy-making to supporting efforts to provide women and their communities with practical skills needed for securing sustainable livelihoods. GWEFODE also works to strengthen women's rights to land and inheritance, increase their access to credit and decent work, and empower Women migrant workers as well as home-based workers.

Our Programs

Participatory Governance & Gender Equity Advocacy

GWEFODE’s work is to Promote Participatory Governance using Rights Based Approach to programming and gender equity in development as well as participation in decision making.
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Gender Based Violence Prevention & Response

GWEFODE mobilizes resources to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence access free medical treatment and psychosocial support.
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Conflict Resolution & Peace Building

GWEFODE seeks to improve the capacity of community based mediators and local leaders to resolve conflicts and enhance effective and efficient justice delivery in the informal justice system.
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Sustainable Agriculture & Food Security

GWEFODE undertakes research on best agricultural practices that are sustainable and environmentally friendly and sharing these with farmers in Uganda.
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Sustainable Energy Efficient Technologies

Over 95% of households in Kabale district use biomass fuels (firewood and charcoal) to cook on traditional stoves. This reliance on firewood presents mothers with impossible choices.
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Vocational Education & Training

GWEFODE supports entrepreneurial development through equipping marginalized women and youth with skills such as tailoring, candle making and making charcoal briquettes aimed at income generation.
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Water Sanitation & Hygiene

GWEFODE improves the management of water sources through refresher trainings and sensitization of community members especially women and children on better use.
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HIV/AIDS & Malaria Prevention

GWEFODE disseminates Information, Education and Communication IEC/ Behavior Change Communication (BCC) campaigns and materials focused on orphans and vulnerable children.
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Maternal and Child Health

GWEFODE creates awareness on maternal and child health and advocates for improved health services to reduce on maternal and child morbidity and mortality.
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Featured Documents

A joint Statement on The Right of Indigenous Batwa People to Land and Natural Resources in Uganda Submitted by GWEFODE and France Libertes to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

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