WGEF is known for the development of unique initiatives relevant to challenges facing women and families in Gulu district, northern Uganda. Today, we had the opportunity to learn how one program is addressing the needs of the community. It was one year ago when WGEF hosted the Access to Justice training at the TAKS center in Gulu. Twenty five women attended the training focused on providing vital information and support services to women and families seeking redress from the justice system. Because women have unique challenges when accessing justice, WGEF and it’s peer counselors are working to provide referrals, support and a hotline to the community.
Today, Karen spoke with Peer Counselor Chairperson Prisca and Secretary Sylvia (pictured above) who have been leading the initiative along with other Peer Counselors; they have created an effective system that addresses violence, and other issues within their families and community. Cases have included the rape and death of a 3-year old girl, as well as the sexual violence towards a 12-year old girl. In addition, cases around land rights, domestic violence and discrimination have also been addressed. Prisca, Sylvia and the WGEF Peer Counseling force have become advocates for these girls, their families and others facing inequity or indifference from the legal system.
In the near future, the Access of Justice Initiative will become an independent, community-level organization available to women who experienced a breakage in the justice chain, including sexual violence. WGEF will continue to provide a portion of funding and office space, but it is part of our commitment to empowering women, communities and ‘working ourselves out of a job.’
Prisca explained the hotline and how it works. The hotline or mobile phone is now answered 24/7; Peer Counselors take turns taking care of the phone and any calls that may come in. As Prisca was leaving the office, she grabbed the phone and off she went. WGEF fosters sisterhood amongst women, but the Access of Justice Initiative has developed a community of activists focused on addressing the inequalities within the justice system, while providing collective love and stability.
However, Prisca and Sylvia expressed to us specific needs to increase the outreach of their community-level justice program. The wish list includes:
(3) bikes for transportation
Camera used to document evidence
Computer to efficiently record files, cases, work plans, referral listings, etc
Annual budget for food and miscellaneous costs for affected women and girls, $200
Being in the office today reaffirmed my belief that our program is unique, relevant and creating empowerment, enabling women to rebuild and move their communities forward, determining their own futures thru sisterhood and peace.
While positive news is hard to find, we hope you are inspired by this report and support this important project. Please contact WGEF if you’d like to help or have questions.
Karen, Bukenya, Erin and WGEF!
From street vending to serious business women and now to political aspirants. Our credit plus program, focusing on leadership development, has produced 7 women aspirants in the upcoming general elections. From now until election day they will receive training and support; sharpening their public speaking and leadership skills. They are to be the representatives of the many silent voices for women in Gulu region, working their way to self determination and challenging systemic inequalities in political representation. Contestants include:
We hope you are inspired! Thank you for your support!
Karen and Bukenya
The Foundation for Global Scholars has recognized Karen Sugar, WGEF Director and Founder, for her dedication and leadership in women’s empowerment and journey towards equality. Karen was awarded the Lifetime Leader Award as a part of the Foundation’s Global Changemaker Awards.
The Global Changemaker Lifetime Award honors those intrepid individuals who have made a meaningful impact on a global level over the course of their lives and who inspire others to do the same. They have started international organizations, volunteered internationally, and/or invested time, resources and talents in other countries that helped improve lives and communities. They are role models for the rest of us.
All nominees will be honored at the annual international wine tasting event Eat Drink Travel on October 2nd at the Cable Center in Denver from 6:00-9:00pm.
Our 8th Annual Drama Festival will be on October 2nd and 3rd this year in Gulu. The focus of this years events will be: Women and Gender Equity in Civic Participation
Why Civic Participation?
Due to the current political situation in Uganda, and heading into the 2016 elections, gender equity and civic engagement are more important than ever. The topic was chosen by WGEF peer counselors and staff. The day’s events will take place at the TAKS Art Center and the Hotel Bornah in Gulu Town.
In past years, the annual festival has addressed issues of gender inequality, violence, land rights, food security, HIV/AIDS and other issues facing women in northern Uganda. As part of WGEF’s drama competition, Kikopo Pa Mon, women in our Credit Plus program create original plays highlighting their stories using music, drama, and dance.
Women use the unique opportunity as a vehicle to directly speak to the men and community leaders who are in attendance. Because the issues addressed are sensitive and can be difficult to discuss directly, using music, dance and drama offers a different way to communicate while providing many other benefits including maintaining and celebrating cultural traditions. The festival events provide a stigma-free environment in which to talk about sensitive subject matters; it promotes unity and team building, elevates women’s voices, and offers the opportunity to be creative and innovative. Th weekend is a celebration of the Acholi culture and history.
This year, our goal is to continue to grow and expanded opportunity for adult literacy leaning to more women in Gulu. 216 women are participating at 2 learning centers in Gulu. Our program is reflective to the needs of women in the community and offers children the opportunity for early child development.
For the month of July women participate once a week to allow them time to attend to their agro business in this weeding period.
Impact on Beneficiaries:
“Illiteracy disempowered me for long time, and almost killed my ambitions as it does for many women in our community, for long I could not tell my views always feared but this is no more. When you lean so many things changes in your life a feel of being important, and the willingness to stop self isolation Is what I have discovered and I’m a happier and powerful woman than ever before.”
Thank you for the opportunity,
Mary Okeny –WGEF Client Gulu