As a member of the 2021 Women’s Situation Room (WSR) steering Committee, WOUGNET played a critical role in mobilizing women and youth in Kampala to ensure their active participation in promoting peace before, during, and after elections. The WSR is a non-partisan mechanism that was launched in the 2011 elections in Liberia and later Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda in 2016. The mechanism works with the electoral commission, national security organs, political party leaders, human rights commissions, and civil society organizations to ensure peace before, during, and after elections. WOUGNET facilitated the training of 50 youth and 50 women from Kampala with representatives from the informal and formal sector to become advocates of peace, a process that promoted their leadership in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. WOUGNET similarly coordinated the peace activities that were implemented by the youth and women peace advocates in the areas of Kamwokya, Rubaga, Central Division, Kawempe, Makerere University. During a follow-up meeting to access the impact of the peace advocates and the challenges they faced, a number of success stories were registered. As an example, Kyomugisha Olivia, a youth peace advocate who resides in the ghetto areas of Kawempe promoted peace during the election period by conducting peace dialogues with youth in her community like boda-boda riders, youth out of school who were most likely to engage in violent acts by using games like Ludo as a mobilizing strategy.
She stated that,
“I went to the trading center with my board game for Ludo while wearing my WSR t-shirt to meet the youth, and the moment they saw me, they joined me to play thus giving me a ground to preach about peace”.
Olivia went an extra mile to mobilize a team of young girls in her community who joined her to hang and hold charts with peace messages at the polling station which could have been one of the contributing factors to a peaceful election in her community. In addition to that, the training empowered women to exercise their leadership skills and further enabled them to command respect in society. A case in point is Nakato Florence, one of the women peace advocates who operates an informal business in Wandegeya. After the elections, Florence took the initiative to promote peace among the youths including drug addicts that always gather around her business area. She reported that they were threatening to cause violence in protest against the election outcomes which they considered to be unfair. According to Florence, it was not a one-off achievement but a process of negotiation and counseling backed up by the knowledge she had acquired from the training, her efforts were later recognized by the police Officer in Charge of the area who also commended her work and also agreed to take WSR’s free toll number.
She exclaimed that, “…because of this experience, I feel respected in the area where I work”.
WOUGNET’s engagement in the empowerment of women and youth in the election processes promoted peace and active citizenship during the election period which is a fundamental key to the social, political, and economic development of Uganda.
Written by Nampiima Maria Gorret, Program Assistant; Information Sharing and Networking Program.