Camille Guyot-Bender works in the Operations Department supporting each of ACF's technical sectors: Food Security and Livelihoods, Nutrition, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Advocacy.
Through Innovative Program, Women Vow to Eradicate Gender-Based Violence in Uganda
Since the early 1990s, northern Uganda has been victim to one of Africa’s longest running conflicts caused by the notorious rebel group Lord's Resistance Army, (LRA) which aims to overthrow the current government. Due to the extreme forms of violence the rebels use, especially gender-based violence (GBV), as a weapon against women and children, 1.5 million people have been displaced over the course of the last two decades.
Since 2006 the region has enjoyed relative stability and security, with the majority of local communities returning back to their home villages. Still, GBV has become an accepted norm in many communities and households. To support the recovery process and help heal the trauma women have suffered, Action Against Hunger, through the financial support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, has been tackling the issue through a program called “Combating Gender-Based Violence and Enhancing Economic Empowerment of Women in Northern Uganda.” The program assists women in forming groups focused on bringing an end to the inequalities that exist within their homes.
The Kingdom of Norway in its cooperation initiatives around the world is committed to partnerships and funding development programs meant to mitigate gender inequalities as well as gender based violence and contributing to a reduction in imbalances against women. This program is one of the several intervention areas by the Royal Norwegian Embassy cooperation in Uganda.
Ribe Kelo Kuc’s Story
One of the women’s groups formed in February 2012 is called Ribe Kelo Kuc (or “Unity” in the local language), and is based in Bwobonam village. According to a report from the local administration, about 83% of women in the community experience varied degrees of violence against them, including physical abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, and denial of property rights and inheritance.
“After decades of extreme violence against women and children by the rebel groups, GBV has become an accepted norm in the communities and within households, leaving women to feel humiliated and stigmatized to disclose any information. Instead they resort to suffering in silence."
—Obita Michael, Local Chairperson, Ribe Kelo Kuc Group
The women’s group has gone through various training sessions as a means of building their confidence and earning recognition within their communities. Furthermore, the group was provided with intensive GBV awareness training specific to the local context, including the legal system and other institutions that can provide support. We supported the group by developing Behavior Change Communication (BCC) materials that guided the group activities in the community and were later introduced to the local leadership, health centers, police, and judiciary in order to get the entire community on board.
Oyella Nighty, who is the leader of the group, recounted that most members were victims of violence at some point in their lives, either by the rebels during the insurgency or later in the form of domestic violence by their partners. She said that with the support from us and from local leadership, women are now becoming bold enough to condemn any act of violence and take it seriously through legal measures.
“My husband was heavily drinking everyday and our marriage was at stake, as were the lives of my children. When he was running out of money, he would then attempt to sell our household property to buy alcohol. If I tried to stop him, he would beat me violently. Several times, I had to run away from the house in fear. When I shared my experience with the women’s group, they took me and my husband through several counseling sessions including weekly visits to check on our progress. The group’s intervention saved my family, and I thank them for reaching out to me."
—Adoch Agnes, Group Beneficiary
Since its establishment two years ago, the group has resolved 80 cases of disagreement at the household level. With your help, we can continue to provide support to these women and end GBV in the region once and for all.